US Open: Rafael Nadal beats Hijikata, extends his incredible run
Spanish ace Rafael Nadal reached the second round at the 2022 US Open after beating Australia's Rinky Hijikata. The Spaniard, who competed at the hard-court Slam for the first time since 2019, won 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3. Nadal has now won each of his 20 matches at Grand Slams this year. He has also won 19 of his past 20 US Open matches.
Nadal looked rusty in the first set as he lost 4-6. However, the Spaniard raised his game in the following three sets to stage a terrific comeback. Interestingly, Nadal had not dropped the opening set in the first round of a Grand Slam since 2016 (7-6, 4-6, 3-6, 7-6, 6-2 against Fernando Verdasco). Against Hijikata, Nadal slammed a total of 42 winners.
Before the ongoing US Open, Nadal was stunned by Borna Coric at the Cincinnati Masters. It was Nadal's fourth loss of 2022 (he is 36-4 this year). In January, the Spaniard defied all odds to win the Australian Open, claiming a record-breaking 21st major. Nadal then went to claim a record-extending 14th Roland Garros title. He opted out of Wimbledon semis due to injury.
Nadal has won four US Open titles (2010, 2013, 2017, and 2019), the joint-second-most with John McEnroe in the Open Era. By winning one more, the former will join Pete Sampras, Jimmy Connors, and Federer (5 each) at the top. Bill Tilden, William Larned, Richard Sears lead the all-time tally with seven titles. Nadal has a win-loss record of 65-11 at the US Open.
Nadal missed the 2021 US Open, owing to a foot injury. In 2020, he had decided to skip the US Open amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Spaniard won the 2019 edition after beating Daniil Medvedev in the final. This was the first time since 2006-2008 that Nadal, Djokovic, and Federer had secured all four major titles (singles) in three consecutive years.