Rafael Nadal defeated unseeded teenager Borna Coric 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in the first round of the US Open on Monday evening.
The Spain international is having a difficult season of his career as he was stunned in the second round of Wimbledon by a qualifier Dustin Brown and failed to reach last four in the Australian Open and French Open. The 29-year-old has gone more than 14 months since making it past a major quarterfinal.
Two-time US Open champion entered the contest insecure in the knowledge that he had lost his only previous head-to-head match against the 18-year-old Croatian, last October in Basel. The high-energy match ran nearly three hours mark and probably wasn’t the best way to start a tournament.
Fourteen-time Grand Slam champion dominated the first two sets and then saw off a resurgent Coric in the fourth set with a rasping forehand to earn the decisive break. Mallorca native advances to face Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman in the second round, but a quarter-final clash looms with top-seeded Novak Djokovic, who has won six of the seven matches they have played since 2013.
“I started playing very well. The first two sets was a very high level for me, and then I got a little bit tired,” said Nadal. The conditions here are very humid, I am sweating a lot and in these conditions I suffer a bit,” he added.
Earlier in the day, last year’s runner up Kei Nishikori was beaten in another first round match on The Frenchman Benoit Paire defeated 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 the Japanese player, ranked world number four. “It’s always very sad to lose in the first round, but I think he was playing good tennis so I don’t think I played bad,” said Nishikori. IMAGE/Reuters