The Spanish tennis player Rafa Nadal qualified this Tuesday for the second round of the United States Open, fourth and last ‘Grand Slam’ of the season, although he dropped a set along the way in his victory against the Australian Rinky Hijikata (4- 6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3).
The Spaniard, second seeded and four times champion at Flushing Meadows, returned to this ‘great’ three years after winning his last title against the Russian Daniil Medvedev and after not having much of a competitive rhythm after his injury at Wimbledon, with only the defeat against the Croatian Borna Coric in his debut at the Masters 1,000 in Cincinnati (United States).
And that lack of shooting could be noticed by the man from Manacor, who was initially surprised by the resistance and enthusiasm of his “unknown” rival, 21 years old and 198 in the world ranking, but with the passing of the games he was imposing his strength to finish the duel with good feelings that he will now try to extend against the always uncomfortable Fabio Fognini, who already knows what it is like to defeat him at the US Open.
Nadal was not at his best level with the service, the part that bothers him even more about his latest mishap. He didn’t hit too many firsts, although on the positive side he didn’t concede many points, with only break balls in the first and fourth sets and only one serve loss, and he went to rest with nine aces.
However, in the rest of his tennis he proved to be fine, with a total of 43 winners to just 22 unforced errors in a long game (more than three hours), which also helped him fine-tune his tennis for future commitments.
But the Spanish tennis player did not start serving well and that gave Hijikata options, very aggressive as expected. The Australian, graced with an invitation, wanted to participate in the New York night of a packed Arthur Ashe and offered a lot of solidity with his service. The 11 ‘winners’ of him and knowing how to take advantage of the only loophole to the rest that the Balearic gave him allowed him to win the first set and dream.
The winner of 22 ‘Grand Slams’, who lost the first set in a ‘big’ for the first time since 2016 (against Fernando Verdasco in Melbourne), did not have a single opportunity to break in this first set, but he did not break down and He quickly woke up the oceanic in a great second set where he broke quickly to take advantage and in which he served best, with only four lost points, one with first serve.
Nadal then picked up cruising speed and was already the great dominator against a Hijikata without options again to the rest in the third set, also decided in favor of the Spaniard due to a break in the early stages. The Australian tried to continue giving ‘war’, but the Manacori did not leave him too many loopholes. A new quick break allowed him to dominate the set, although this time he did have some concerns on serve, having to pick up a 0-40 when he served for 5-3.
Along with the four-time champion, Catalan Albert Ramos also advanced to the second round, beating Slovakian Norbert Gombos (6-3, 6-4, 7-5) to meet Croatian Marin Cilic, while Jaume Munar and Roberto Carballes could not finish his Spanish duel with the Tenerife native very close to victory (6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 4-1).
Source: Europa Press