Rafael Nadal drops first set but rallies to defeat Rinky Hijikata at US Open
Rafael Nadal thrashed Rinky Hijikata 6-4 6-2 to win the first round of the US Open.
Nadal, 34, began the day as world number one and reached the semi-finals of the last US Open in 2013 and 2015.
He now faces either Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final on Friday.
Hijikata, 36, came into the tournament in the lower half of the draw having reached the same stage at Wimbledon in 2012, 2013, and 2014.
Nadal began the second set on a break and held a 2-1 lead, before Hijikata broke back to level at 2-2.
The American, who was born in Japan, hit nine aces in the victory and will play a fifth-round match against either Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or David Goffin.
Novak Djokovic, the world number two, is in a rematch against the Swiss-born player Roger Federer, who was third at the last masters tournament in London.
Federer plays a wildcard match tomorrow against Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The two-time champion is now looking to secure a place in the men’s Wimbledon final at Queen’s Club or Wimbledon.
The world number two began the night at 1-5 after losing the first set to Juan Monaco.
But Federer rallied to beat the Swiss five times in five sets on his way to victory in just over an hour.
Federer, who was once ranked second-to-last in the world prior to his breakthrough in 2006 and 2007, has now lifted the US Open for the 14th time and the 11th time in 2017.
Djokovic, who is also the defending champion, also won his first US Open men