Rafael Nadal wins first set of US Open match against Rameez Junaid

Rafael Nadal wins first set of US Open match against Rameez Junaid

Rafael Nadal drops first set but rallies to defeat Rinky Hijikata at US Open


Published 9:45 am, Friday, January 2, 2015

NEW YORK — Rafael Nadal returned to the court after missing the first set with a knee injury in the fourth round and won the first set of his match with world No. 1 and top-ranked Rameez Junaid as he began his bid to unseat a defending champion.

Nadal and his Spanish crosstown rivals were competing against each other in their third match of their US Open preparations.

Nadal, who had missed most of his practice time in New York with the injury, came back after nine service faults and held his serve in the third set to take a 3-1 lead in the match. He lost his serve when he double-faulted with a backhand in the third game when he served at 15-40 and then fell behind 0-30.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion struggled in each point of the fourth set as the game became more and more tight. Nadal was down 0-40 in the first game against Junaid when he double-faulted on his first service return and then hit a backhand unreturnable. He took the second set with a pair of unforced errors.

The No. 1-seeded Nadal made his seventh and last unforced error in the second game of the match, saving a break point on a drive winner that came down the line and hit the net.

“The game was a little tight a little bit in the beginning,” Nadal said. “I didn’t have many chances at making the set. And of course, I had double faults when I lost a couple.”

Junaid saved four break points in the first set on his second service game as he served at 11-30, then fought

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