New York City (United States) : Second seed Rafael Nadal stormed into the US Open second round on Monday with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 win over American wildcard Ryan Harrison.
Nadal, the 2010 champion in New York, clinched his 16th hardcourt win in a row without loss of 2013 to illustrate his position as favourite for the title.
The 27-year-old Spaniard has captured nine trophies since his return from a seventh-month injury lay-off in February, building up a 54-3 winning record in the process.
Nadal came into New York having won back-to-back Masters titles at Montreal and Cincinnati, comfortably overcoming his shock first-round exit at Wimbledon.
He next tackles either Canada’s Vasek Pospisil or Brazilian qualifier Rogerio Dutra Silva.
The Spaniard had defeated Harrison in their only prior meeting, which came in Nadal’s first hardcourt match of the year in March at Indian Wells after a seven-month knee injury layoff.
Nadal went on to win at Indian Wells as well as this month at Montreal and Cincinnati and enters this US Open with a 15-0 hardcourt record this season.
“It has been great,” Nadal said. “But there’s no time to think about what happened. It’s only time to think about what’s going on. What’s important is (to) try to be ready for the first round of the US Open.
“I have a tough opponent in front of me, Ryan Harrison, and I am focused on that. I hope to be ready to play well. I hope to be very competitive for the first match.”
Nadal, who would take home $3.6 million (2.69 million dollars) by winning the title, would also end Novak Djokovic’s reign as world number one, if the Serb star also fails to reach the final for a fourth year in a row.
Federer, who at seventh is seeded in his lowest position at the US Open since 2002, suffered his earliest Grand Slam exit since winning his first Grand Slam title a decade ago with a second-round loss at Wimbledon.
The Swiss star, with a men’s record 17 Grand Slam crowns but no US Open title since his fifth in a row in 2008, opens in a night match against Slovenia’s Grega Zemlja, who has not taken a set off Federer in two prior meetings, most recently at Rotterdam in February.
Federer will match a record by making his 56th consecutive Grand Slam appearance, a remarkable run that began at the 2000 Australian Open. Wayne Ferreira set the mark with a run that ended at the 2004 US Open.
“I’ve put in the hard work for so many years. That keeps my base at a very high level,” Federer said. “It’s actually more comfortable with my body today than it has been in the past.”