Nadal recovered from a slow start to beat Rinky Hijikata at Flushing Meadows.
Rafael Nadal admitted that he was a bit nervous during his US Open first round match but added that he was glad that he was able to “get the job done” in his opener. Nadal, 36, recovered from a slow start to beat wildcard Rinky Hijikata 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-3 and set up a US Open second round match versus Fabio Fognini.
Nadal, a four-time US Open champion, was playing his first US Open match since beating Daniil Medvedev in the 2019 US Open final. Also, Nadal was playing just his second match on hard this summer, having lost to Borna Coric in his Cincinnati Masters two weeks ago.
Playing his first US Open match in three years and not having a great preparation for the US Open caused Nadal to feel nervous in his first round match at Flushing Meadows.
Nadal: I was nervous but glad I got the job done
“Well, obviously a tough match,” Nadal said after the match.
“I think I started not that bad in the first couple of games, but then I had some opportunities that I was not able to make. I think I didn’t play a good game with my serve, then he had the break. Then I was a little bit nervous.
First match here in New York after three years, a night session, it’s always exciting. Yes, I went through this tough moment. But then I think I played better. I was not perfect, but happy. My second match in 50 days, more or less.
In some ways, it was not the day to play perfectly. It was a day to just get the job done, and that is what I did. I’m happy about that.” Next up for Nadal is Fognini, the player he has beaten 13 times over the course of his career. Going into the match, Nadal is the big favorite to beat Fognini and reach the third round.