Rafael Nadal drops first set but rallies to defeat Rinky Hijikata at US Open – 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-3
PARIS — Rafael Nadal’s victory at the U.S. Open came too late and too late.
After winning eight of the last nine tournaments he has played on clay, the No. 1-seeded Nadal fell just shy of breaking through in New York, losing to Japan’s Riky Hijikata in straight sets.
“I feel terrible. It was a difficult match,” Nadal said. “I was the first to go three sets down. I have to live without a confidence.”
Nadal had lost just once in 33 matches prior to Wednesday, but couldn’t find a way past the baseline.
“When I come to take the ball to the net, I’m not even close to my level,” Nadal said. “I had to come to the net in some moments and hit the ball pretty long. I was only two or three steps from the court, and I was able to score a few balls.”
Despite being No. 3, Nadal was the only man to win his last five matches on the red clay of Roland Garros.
“I feel happy, but I don’t know what to do to keep the level that I have,” he said.
Nadal was also the only player in the field to lose in the third round of a Grand Slam event this year.
Rafael Nadal’s U.S. Open title was his first since 2007
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TENNIS: Roger Federer continues to rack up Grand Slam titles in New York, winning the men’s singles title for a 12th time, while Novak Djokovic continued his run of consecutive top-10s at the U.