After dropping the first set, Rafael Nadal rallied to defeat Rinky Hijikata in the No. 2 seed’s opening match at the US Open on Tuesday night.
His 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 victory ended with Nadal outlasting Hijikata in a grueling game that featured five match points.
Nadal did not show any serious lingering effects from the torn abdominal muscle that forced the 22-time Grand Slam champion to pull out of Wimbledon before he was supposed to play in the semifinals.
“Very happy, it’s been a long wait,” Nadal said, after winning his first match in this tournament since 2019.
Nadal will next face a tough challenge against Italian Fabio Fognini, who rallied from two sets down against the 22-time Slam champion in New York in 2015.