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    Nadal takes off with the handbrake

    Dissatisfied, Rafael Nadal examines the stringing of his racket and urges his team to resume the series: “Come on, let’s start again.” The asphalt of Training Court 1, the traditional Spanish laboratory in the Flushing Meadows complex, sets off fire with the cocktail: it is 30 degrees and humidity close to 70%, so the tennis player’s body exudes constant sweat and the Lycra that wraps the torso, completely soaked, perfectly defines the abdominal area. Right there, behind the fabric, is the main puzzle of this US Open to which he arrives as the uncontested favorite, even though the Russian Daniil Medvedev defends the title he won a year ago.

    The preamble of New York is clear: it is Nadal, and then the others. The 36-year-old Balearic lands in the great North American without having lost a single game in the three majors previous (19-0 balance) and with a spectacular annual record, having won 35 of the 39 duels he has played so far. He sang bingo in Melbourne, he repeated in Paris and then he was forced to leave Wimbledon, as a result of the muscular mishap that prevented him from taking the court to face Nick Kyrgios in the semifinals.

    Since July 7, the day of San Fermin, he and his team have been watching the evolution of abdominal scarring and there was only one way out: prudence, prudence and more prudence.

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    As a result, Nadal has had to redesign training sessions and carefully monitor each maneuver on serve. He reappeared in Cincinnati two weeks ago and relented against Borna Coric, although he says the process is on the right track. “I lost against the champion, it was not a disaster. In general terms, I am working at a high level and the preparation is getting better, ”he wielded on Friday during his first speech before journalists in New York, where he will leave the same way he arrived: with the handbrake. Limited.

    It was perfectly perceived in training this Monday, before today’s premiere (1.00, Eurosport) against Rinky Hijikata (21 years old and 198 in the world). After rallying at high intensity with Carlos Moyà and Marc Lopez to grease the drive and the setback, for 50 minutes, the Majorcan allocated only five to serve. He served at half throttle, without foreshortening and at low speed. After each attempt, a brief dialogue with the trainer Francis Roig to evaluate.

    Five-time champion contender

    “It is a tough injury because it is dangerous, it is risky. You have a scar in a place where you put a lot of effort when you are serving. You need to find flexibility again. There is a risk of tearing when you are doing a relevant movement there, in a muscle that is not as flexible as before. At the moment, I am not putting the effort into the serve”, he warned four days ago, hinting that there are still risks and that a bad step or haste could have a direct impact on his interests, which are none other than raising his fifth trophy on the asphalt of the largest track in the world.

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    In the event of achieving it, Nadal – winner in 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2019 – would historically distance himself from John McEnroe and would match the current five-time champions: Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer. This time, the Spaniard will dance without the company of the other two giants, the Swiss and Novak Djokovic. Between the three of them they have appropriated 59 of the last 69 major tournaments. “I’m excited to play here, it’s one of the most important places in my career,” he says on his return, since he hadn’t competed at Flushing Meadows since 2019; he resigned from the 2020 edition due to the pandemic and last year the chronic injury to his left foot deprived him of the second half of the season.

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    BC | Madrid

    Nadal heads the bill for the second day, in which Carlos Alcaraz also makes his debut. The 19-year-old Murcian will face (18.00) with the Argentine Sebastian Baez, 37th in the world. Garbine Muguruza will also take part, summoned with Clara Tauson (57th, around 5:00 p.m.) and Paula Badosa, facing Lesia Tsurenko (87th, around 1:00 a.m.).

    Yesterday, opening day, Pablo Carreno (7-5, 6-1, 5-7 and 6-3 to Dominic Thiem) and Alejandro Davidovich (6-3, 7-5 and 6-3 to Yoshihito Nishioka) progressed, but they yielded Roberto Bautista (triple 6-4 against JJ Wolf), Bernabe Zapata (4-6, 6-3, 2-6, 6-0 and 7-5 in favor of Tommy Paul) and Nuria Parrizas (6-4 and 6 -3 with Dalma Galfi). From the outset, Pablo Andujar announced his withdrawal due to a forearm injury.

    On the other hand, Medvedev made his debut smoothly (6-2, 6-4 and 6-0 to Stefan Kozlov) and skidded one of the candidates, the Romanian Simona Halep (6-2, 0-6 and 6-4 to Daria Snigur ).

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    Source: EL PAIS


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