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Rafa Rolls Under The Roof On Ashe

Rafael Nadal overcame a slow start to book his spot in the second round at the US Open, ousting Dusan Lajovic 7-6(6), 6-2, 6-2 in two hours and 17 minutes on Tuesday.

With rain storms putting a damper on Day Two in Flushing Meadows, the top-seeded Spaniard prevailed under the closed roof as he kicked off his 13th appearance at the hard-court Grand Slam. Nadal fired 33 winners and five aces, claiming six of 11 break chances in total. He will face either American wild card Tommy Paul or Japan's Taro Daniel next.

Rafael Nadal opens his 13th US Open campaign.
It was far from straightforward, but Nadal claimed the opening set 8/6 in a tie-break, before reeling of 12 of the next 16 games for an emphatic finish. With the roof closed on Arthur Ashe Stadium due to persistent rain over Flushing Meadows, Nadal battled back from a break down to claim the opener of their US Open first-round encounter.

The Spaniard conceded the first break of the match in the third game, but would draw level with Lajovic serving for the set at 5-4, claiming the break back to love. He streaked to a 4-1 lead in the ensuing tie-break and snatched the opener as a Lajovic backhand sailed long. He surged to a two-set lead with consecutive breaks early in the second and again in the third. Nadal prevailed on his first match point as a Lajovic forehand return flew long.

"It was a tough beginning of the match," said Nadal. "Some nerves, obviously, after a week here practising well. I was practicing every day at very high level. Today I didn't play at that high level, but just like this, the important thing is I won and I have one more day to keep practising and another chance to play better the next day.

"It is normal that you have some nerves at the beginning and you get a little bit tight at the beginning of the tournament. So the important thing is to be through and that's what I did today. It was a tough start but then I played better."

It was the second FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting between Nadal and Lajovic, with the Manacor native having captured a fourth-round encounter at Roland Garros in 2014.

The two-time champion (2010, '13) is back in New York as the top seed with his sights set on a 16th Grand Slam crown, as well as retaining the No. 1 position in the Emirates ATP Rankings. Both he and Roger Federer are in contention to leave with the coveted top spot, with a potential semi-final showdown in the cards. Federer needs to reach the semis to have a chance to return to World No. 1.

"I feel that I am practising much better than in Montreal and Cincinnati," Nadal added. "That doesn't mean that you're going to have a great result, but the real thing is the feeling is much more positive. Today was a match that I won and I have another chance the next day. I need to be ready for that, and I hope to be ready for that, because I really worked a lot."

Only two men's matches will be completed on Tuesday due to the inclement weather, with Federer and Frances Tiafoe slated to conclude the night session on Ashe. All other matches, including the six that have already commenced, are postponed to Wednesday.

Sixth seed Dominic Thiem soared to a 6-4, 6-1, 1-0 advantage over Aussie teen Alex de Minaur when the skies closed. In other action, American Bjorn Fratangelo leads Ivo Karlovic 7-6(2), 2-3 and Donald Young leads Maximilian Marterer 6-3, 1-6, 2-0.

Source: http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/news/us-open-2017-tuesday-nadal-lajovic

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