Nadal is scared, but defeats Hijikata in the first round of the US Open | sneakers

Rafael Nadal got a little scare this Tuesday when he lost the first set to Rinky Hijikata, 198th in the ATP rankings, in the opening round of the US Open, in New York (USA). But victory was a matter of time. The four-time champion, who occupies the third position, was reunited and got the turnaround by 3 sets to 1 (4/6, 6/2, 6/3 and 6/3). The Australian valued his opponent’s triumph, “selling dearly” the result until the end and providing an eventful confrontation.

Rafael Nadal celebrates his victory at the US Open — Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Four-time US Open champion and the biggest holder of Grand Slams titles – he adds 22 throughout his career – Nadal seeks the top of the rankings. And, in his next step in the competition, he will face Fabio Fognini, 60th.

The technical discrepancy between Rafael Nadal, ranked third, and Rinky Hijikata, 198th, manifested itself in the first game. The Spaniard served four times to win the first game of zero. It looked like it would be easy. It just looked. The 21-year-old Australian would give work, and confirmed his service in the sequence, abusing the volleys.

Rafael Nadal and Hijikata confirmed their services until the match was tied at 3-3. That was when the Australian, sniper in a duel against the favorite, broke the serve of “Miúra”. In an attempt to lob, Hijikata completely stretched his arm, got the volley and nailed the point: 4 to 3. Confident, the youngster made it 5 to 3 in the sequence.

Rafael Nadal seeks the fifth US Open championship — Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Nadal discounted the advantage when he resumed the service: 5 to 4. But Hijikata was not willing to pass up the opportunity to win a set against one of the greatest in history. With three set points, the Australian missed the first. However, with a spectacular ace, he scored 6-4, opening 1-0 in the first set.

In the second set, Rafael Nadal showed his power of reaction to open 3 to 0 – with a break in service. The advantage was retained by “Miúra” who confirmed all his services this time. After scoring 5-2, he pulverized Hijikata’s serve again, scored 6-2 and tied the game at 1-1. There were seven winning points in favor of the Spaniard, against one of the opponent.

Rinky Hijikata won a set against Rafael Nadal — Photo: Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

In search of a comeback, Rafael Nadal imposed himself on the court. The four-time US Open champion put Hijikata on the run by accelerating the balls. Again, the Spaniard confirmed his services, broke the opponent’s and scored 6-3, turning the game around.

Even behind on the scoreboard, Hijikata managed to deliver a tough set to Rafael Nadal, especially for someone who is so far down the rankings. The Spaniard won the serve break in the fifth game. With 4 to 3 on the scoreboard, “Miúra” was pressured in the eighth game, when Hijkata opened 40 to 0, but recovered and confirmed the service with an indefensible ball in the back of the court. Sweating his shirt off, literally, in pursuit of triumph, he celebrated with leaps and cries of relief.

Despite the closeness of the end of the match, Hijikata struggled to prolong it. The Australian “sold dearly” every point, took the game to 40-40, but stumbled when committing a double fault, which gave the Spaniard the advantage. “Miúra” wasted the match point by hitting a ball into the net. Again even, Hijikata landed a spectacular volley and was given a standing ovation. Nadal scored, and they went back to 40-40. The Australian took the lead again, but was stopped by his opponent.

Rinky Hijikata – who stood out for his volleys during the duel – missed precisely this point in what could have been the penultimate point of the game. Nadal, however, returned a serve into the net, and the Australian gained survival. The Spaniard, for the fourth time, had a match point – wasted again by hitting the ball into the net. It was only on the fifth match point that Rafael Nadal was finally able to celebrate the victory by applying a blow to the parallel in an indefensible way.

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