Abuja = Rafa Nadal beat Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-1 6-4 6-2 in his first-round match on Monday in the opening day of the U.S Open, the year’s last grand slam.
Though worn out from his Rio Olympics exertions after emerging from an injury absence to win doubles gold, the Spaniard perked back up with this trip to New York.
“I think I played a solid match for a lot of time. There was a tough moment in the middle of the second set, but I think I resisted well and I’m very happy at the victory,” Nadal, who disclosed that his injured wrist is improving daily, said on court.
“Istomin is a really dangerous player, so I’m very happy to be through.”
Nadal said he is re-energised being in New York after feeling fatigued two weeks ago in Cincinnati, where he lost his second match after flying in from Rio.
“The most important thing is I’m here in New York and that makes me happy,” said Spain’s 14-times grand slam winner, who could not continue through the French Open.
He also missed Wimbledon and the Toronto event due to his wrist injury.
“It’s not easy to go two months-and-a-half out of competition in the middle of the season without hitting a forehand,” Nadal told reporters.
“I need to have the confidence again with my wrist. That is coming … every day (I) feel the wrist a little bit better. That’s very important thing for me, the most important thing.”
Nadal, a twice U.S Open champion, already has a memento from this Flushing Meadows trip — a video recording of him hitting at Arthur Ashe Stadium under the new retractable roof.
“I have it recorded. I was the first player to hit the first ball under the roof covered. Important thing in the history of this tournament,” he said.
“Thanks from the players’ side, from the fans’ side, from the television side, for everybody. It is so important to have a roof like this. So, the programme (match) is never changed and people are not waiting for a rain delay.”
Beyond the obvious benefit of keeping a rain-hit tournament going, the support structure of the moveable roof has cut down on swirling winds that often perplexed players.(Reuters/NAN)