Rafael Nadal started slowly in Monday’s first round of the US Open in New York, but he still won quickly.
The second-seeded Spaniard beat Australia’s Rinky Hijikata in a match that took just over three hours and went 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3. Nadal had to win five points to beat the 21-year-old All-American from the University of North Carolina, but he did it with a spectacular forehand winner down the line.
Nadal, who is 36, wants to win his third Grand Slam this year. He succeeded in the Australian Open and the French Open before an abdominal injury forced him to drop out of Wimbledon before the semifinals. Nadal has won the US Open four times. His most recent win was in 2019 in New York.
His 22 men’s central singles titles are the most ever, one more than Novak Djokovic of Serbia (who can’t play in the US Open because he isn’t vaccinated against COVID-19) and two more than Roger Federer of Switzerland (who is sidelined due to a knee injury).
Hijikata was given a wild card
Hijikata was 198th in the world and has given a wild card. It was his first time in a Grand Slam tournament’s main draw.
Ninth-seeded Laslo Djere of Serbia lost to Russia’s Andrey Rublev 7-6 (5), 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4. Jannik Sinner, the 11th seed from Germany, beat Daniel Altmaier, the 2nd seed from Germany. 25th-seeded Croat Borna Coric beat French qualifier Enzo Couacaud 6-2, 7-6 (5), 3-6, 4-6, 7-5. The match went 5-7, 6-2, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.
After winning in 3 hours and 3 minutes, Sinner said, “For the first round, I can be happy. I’m happy to be in the next game, and now the most important thing is to try to get better as soon as possible.”
“Playing best-of-five sets is very important to me because I like it. It can be as long as it was today, but I like staying on the court.”
In the closest match, Italy’s 26th-seeded Lorenzo Musetti beat Belgium’s David Goffin in 4 hours and 40 minutes with scores of 3-6, 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9). Goffin won more points than Musetti, 58 to 39, but he also made more mistakes than Musetti, 80 to 61.
Other seeded winners were No. 3 Carlos Alcaraz of Spain, No. 7 Cameron Norrie of Great Britain, No. 8 Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, No. 15 Marin Cilic of Croatia, No. 17 Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, No. 19 Denis Shapovalov of Canada, No. 20 Daniel Evans of Great Britain, No. 22 Frances Tiafoe of the United States, No. 28 Holger Rune of Denmark, and No. 32 Miomir Kecman.
In the night’s last match, 14th-seeded Diego Schwartzman of Argentina has set to play against Jack Sock of the United States.