Rafael Nadal drops first set but rallies to defeat Rinky Hijikata at US Open
The 34-year-old Spaniard won just over a month ago, beating Juan Martin Del Potro in six sets in the final of the US Open.
Nadal, who faces Janko Tipsarevic in the second round, added: ‘It is unbelievable. It is surreal. I am very happy to be here.
‘It doesn’t feel like a final, but I am going to try my best to win the match regardless.’
Nadal, who has reached the semi-finals of three Grand Slams, will play a potential final in the US Open for the first time since he first returned to the Tour in 2001.
The 32-year-old will face either Denis Istomin or Juan Martin del Potro, while the two former world number ones go head to head in an intriguing battle for the men’s doubles title.
The men’s final is scheduled for 2pm local time on Sunday.
‘It should be a real thriller,’ said Nadal, who has never lost to former world number one Tipsarevic.
‘He has beaten me before and I want to beat him now. I am not going to lose to Istomin.
‘I hope my match with del Potro is not that tough. I have a lot of respect for him.’
Rafael Nadal is playing his first-ever major final in the US Open.
‘I expect it to be a very tough game because people that I have played against before are going to be playing,’ said the Spaniard, who also faces Janko Tipsarevic and Tomas Berdych, in the semi-finals of the season-ending event at the end of today.
Nadal has won eight titles on the Grand Slams since 2009. He reached the semi-finals in the French Open and US Open, both of the male and female events.
Rafael Nadal will play in his first-ever US Open quarter-final when he faces Tomas Berdych, who has won four titles in the field.
Berdych defeated Juan Mart del Potro in the French Open semi-finals with a 6-1, 6-3 win. He