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It was first victory by Rafael Nadal in New York since 2019 as he defeated Australian wildcard Rinky Hijikata 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3.

August 31st in New York, Rafael Nadal, a 22-time major singles champion from Spain, defeated Rinky Hijikata at Flushing Meadows 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 to advance to today’s second round and face Fabio Fognini of Italy.

The four-time US Open champion has won 19 of his last 20 matches at the season’s final Grand Slam. He is playing here for the first time since winning the title in 2019.

The next challenger for Nadal will be Fognini. Although the Spaniard now holds a 13-4 lead in their all-time matchups, the Italian came back from two sets down to defeat the 22-time Slam champion in New York in 2015.

After three hours and 34 minutes of battling, Fognini defeated Aslan Karatsev of Russia 1-6, 5-7, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4.

In the renowned Arthur Ashe Stadium, Hijikata played ferociously to prevent Nadal from controlling the action.

Nadal stated,

“The wait has been lengthy. I’m overjoyed since I have worried for a while that I might not be able to return. The best sessions are at night; I must maintain my optimistic attitude throughout practices and games while remaining modest and accepting of the process.

Furthermore, Nadal said, “I believe I didn’t play all that poorly in the first two games, but then I had a few chances that I didn’t take,” Nadal remarked. “My serve was not used effectively.” Then Hijikata took a hiatus. I then felt a little anxious.

This was Nadal’s second game since his withdrawal from Wimbledon’s semifinal due to an abdominal issue. The eventual champion Borna Coric was the opponent in the Spaniard’s opening match at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

According to the rankings, Nadal has a great chance of leaving New York as the top tennis player. To have a chance of stopping Nadal from winning the title, Russian Daniil Medvedev, Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, and Norwegian Casper Ruud must all advance to the final.

Trivia | Rafael Nadal

Nadal has a good chance of leaving New York as the top player in the Association of Tennis Professionals rankings, according to Pepperstone. However, to have a chance of stopping the Spaniards from winning the title, Daniil Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz, and Casper Ruud must all get to at least the final.

Catch The Glimpse of The Match | Rafael Nadal vs Rinky Hijikata