NEW YORK: Rafael Nadal opens his bid for a 23rd Grand Slam title at the US Open on Tuesday as world number one Iga Swiatek and defending champion Emma Raducanu headline the women’s draw.
After the searing emotion of Monday’s salute to Serena Williams, the Open was set to return to something like normal service as action on the court took center stage.
Nadal launches his latest Grand Slam title campaign in Tuesday’s night session, where he faces unheralded Australian Rinky Hijikata on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The second-seeded Spaniard is chasing a fifth victory in New York to go along with titles won in 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2019.
The 36-year-old has already won the Australian Open and French Open titles this season, but was forced to withdraw before his Wimbledon semi-final with an abdominal injury.
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Since that curtailed Wimbledon campaign, Nadal has played just once – a first-up loss to Borna Coric in Cincinnati earlier this month.
That has inevitably led to questions about whether Nadal’s creaking body can stand up to the punishing demands of a two-week campaign at Flushing Meadows.
Nadal acknowledged those concerns in a pre-tournament press conference, revealing that he had deliberately held himself back in Cincinnati to protect his injury.
“I take it very easy in the Cincinnati, too, in the practices. The match, I try my best without putting all the effort there on the serve,” Nadal said.
“I hope to be ready for the action. That’s the only thing that I can say.”
Raducanu, Swiatek in action
Injury concerns have also flared for Britain’s reigning champion Raducanu in the women’s draw.
The 19-year-old created a sensation last year when she emerged from qualifying to sweep to the title, the first qualifier ever to win a Grand Slam title.