Beginning his path to a fifth New York crown, Nadal returned from a set before deciding his match 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3.
The Spaniard has won twenty out of twenty in the ‘great’ this year, holding the title Australian Open and in Roland Garros and an elimination at Wimbledon without a court due to an abdominal injury, which prevented him from playing the semi-finals against the Australian Nick Kyrgios,
Since then, Nadal had played only one game on the ‘Tour’, falling against the Croatian in his debut in Cincinnati. Borna CoricoUltimately the champion.
An abdominal injury still prevents him from serving with full restraint, as the mark he has doesn’t give him much flexibility, but Rafa showed good form and his relentless competitive spirit.
A second-round matchup awaits him against Italy’s Fabio Fognini, who has returned from two sets against Russian Aslan Karatsev (1-6, 5-7, 6-1 6-4, 6-4) .
Nadal needed three hours and eight minutes on Arthur Ashe’s court, in a match that began outside and ended with a roof due to the threat of rain, to save his goal pass.
And that Hijikata, in his absolute debut in a ‘Big’, wasn’t paying the pressure to measure himself against the man who won the most ‘Grand Slam’ titles in history with 22 wins.
His first set was of a high standard, he played deeply and fed on great points to get a break in the seventh game and defended 6-4 which gave him an advantage.
The young Australian, who recently won his first match on the ‘Tour’ in Los Cabos, accompanied each point with colorful festivities, especially when he added the shot that deserved a break.
However, Nadal, who was ranked first in the world rankings within his reach in this tournament, never lost his temper and took command of the operations with authority, accelerating with his forehands.
He quickly ran 3-0 in the second set and leveled the match by winning the second set 6-2 in less than 35 minutes.
Nadal leveled up and disarmed Hijikata, who had to take a heavy loss to win the points. It was only a matter of time before the Spaniard took another break of fifteen in the third set to take a 4-1 lead.
Nadal’s forehand was doing more and more damage to Hijikata and it opened the way for him to take a break in the fifth game of the third set after a delicate 30-30 score in the previous game. A parallel right gave him a break of zero and definitely turned the match downhill.
Nadal sent him flying to the second round and sentencing him with a new 6-3 to meet rival Fognini, who had won thirteen of the last 17 he had defeated at Flushing Meadows in 2015.