Nadal Prevails, Raducanu Falls In US Open First Round

Rafael Nadal (photo: Darren Carroll/USTA)

NEW YORK/STARNBERG, August 31, 2022

Spaniards Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz have both booked their spots in the second round of the US Open. Nadal, who is competing at Flushing Meadows for the first time since he won the 2019 title, overcame Australian wild card entry Rinky Hijikata 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 in three hours and nine minutes.

Under the lights on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday evening, Nadal struck nine aces and won 77 per cent of his first-service points. No. 2 seed Nadal has won 19 of his past 20 matches at the season’s final Grand Slam, and he has triumphed in all 20 of his matches at major championships this year.

“Obviously it was a tough match. I think I started not that bad the first couple of games but then I had some opportunities that I was not able to make,” said Nadal.

“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, night session, it’s always exciting. I went through this tough moment. But then I think I played better. It was not perfect. But I’m happy.”

Nadal, who is chasing his third major trophy of the year following victories at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, will next take on Fabio Fognini. The Italian veteran battled past Aslan Karatsev of Russia 1-6, 5-7, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 in three hours and 35 minutes.

Alcaraz benefits from retirement

Earlier in the day, third-seeded Alcaraz was leading 7-5, 7-5, 2-0 when his opponent Sebastian Baez of Argentina was forced to retire due to a leg injury. The 19-year-old from Murcia had prevailed in two scintillating sets on Arthur Ashe Stadium against the World No. 37.

“No one wants to see the end of a match like this,” said Alcaraz in his on-court interview. “I think both players don’t deserve the end like this, but I just say that Sebastian is a great player. He fights until the last ball, so he decided the best thing.”

Raducanu falls, Swiatek advances

In the women’s draw, No. 11 seed Emma Raducanu, who made a dream run to the US Open title last year, suffered a nightmare first-round defeat to Alize Cornet of France. The 19-year-old Briton lost 6-3, 6-3 and has become the first defending champion in New York to lose in the opening round of their title defence since Germany’s Angelique Kerber in 2017.

“Obviously it’s really disappointing, I’m really sad to leave here. It’s probably my favourite tournament,” said Raducanu.