Rafael Nadal drops first set but rallies to defeat Rinky Hijikata at US Open
Rafael Nadal defeated the world No. 1 ranked player Rinky Hijikata 6-7 6-4 5-7 6-3 in the round of 32 in a match that needed all the drama it got. As it turned out, though, a good match of tennis did come from the match between the two.
Hijikata is a top-10 player, he’s been winning titles, and he’s been winning matches like no one else since his return. Nadal had an easy path to victory. As he was the last player to cross the court, he was the first to get his serve back.
That he had both is what proved to be a huge boon to Hijikata.
The first set may have been close enough to let Nadal have the first serve. But, Hijikata knew the first set was just not going to be close enough for Hijikata to have a chance of beating Nadal.
The second set should have been a lot more competitive. Both players tried hard to play on Nadal’s weak serve side, but the real drama came in the last few minutes of the match. As Nadal was on the verge of winning, and Hijikata was just getting back to serve in the tiebreak, Nadal did something to earn the biggest favor of his career.
Nadal served to 3-3, and Hijikata got up for that serve. They hit an unforced error on break point. Hijikata got to serve into the tiebreaker. There he would lose once more.
What happened is called a tiebreaker on serve. For the tiebreak, any point can be a free point.
Nadal had won the first set easily. He had a break point in the third game, but Hijikata got the next serve out and the match was over. Nadal’s record was now 15-8 with a 2-0 lead.
It is now Nadal’s turn to face a player going through something similar to what Rafa had, the first set.
For now in the tournament, he’