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Nadal wins opening match at US Open

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Rafael Nadal returns a shot to Rinky Hijikata during the first round of the US Open.
Rafael Nadal returns a shot to Rinky Hijikata during the first round of the US Open.
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Rafael Nadal’s first US Open match since 2019 ended with a four-set victory over a player making his Grand Slam debut.

Nadal improved to 20-0 in matches at major tournaments this season by beating Australian wild-card entry Rinky Hijikata 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 across more than three hours in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday night.

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. That does not go down on his record as a loss, because he did not take the court for the match.

Nadal has won the U.S. Open four times, including three years ago. He then did not return in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic or last year because of an injured left foot.

The 21-year-old Hijikata was a wild-card entry who played college tennis at North Carolina.

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