December 9, 2013
TENNIS — US OPEN PREVIEWMonday, August 26, 2013
Rafael Nadal brings winning streak
Second-seeded Rafael Nadal, who returned in a perfect form after recovering from a left knee injury, has won his past 10 matches heading into the first round of the final Grand Slam tournament of the year today.
NEW YORK — Ask Rafael Nadal how his famously troublesome left knee is feeling on the eve of the US Open, and he’ll balk a bit while formulating a response.
“I am...” the 12-time major title winner began, haltingly, during an interview with The Associated Press.
“You know ...” he resumed, before smiling sheepishly and pausing again. Eventually, Nadal offered something of a complicated answer. “I have to say that I am very well, because the results have been amazing since I came back,” he said. “If I say something else, (it) will sound strange.”
That’s because when the year’s last Grand Slam tournament begins today, none of the players setting foot on the blue hard courts of Flushing Meadows possesses as much momentum — or is in as fine form — as the No. two-seeded Nadal. He’s won his past 10 matches heading into the first round against the 97th-ranked Ryan Harrison of the United States.
Another past US Open champion today afternoon’s schedule is 2000-01 winner Venus Williams, a former No. 1 now ranked 60th who will be taking on recent Wimbledon semifinalist and 12th-seeded Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium. At night, Williams’ younger sister Serena, the defending champion, plays 2010 French Open winner Francesca Schiavone of Italy, while 17-time major champion Roger Federer faces 62nd-ranked Grega Zemlja of Slovenia.
The biggest curiosity when it comes to Nadal these days is how his knees will hold up. They’ve presented recurring problems for him over the years, particularly the left one, which kept him out of action from late June 2012 until February 2013. He missed the London Olympics, last year’s US Open and this year’s Australian Open.
“I feel more comfortable now than six months ago, that’s for sure,” Nadal said, then quickly added: “But I still have pain some days.”
Top-seeded Novak Djokovic, who won the 2011 US Open, said: “Nadal is definitely back, and he’s playing maybe the best tennis that he ever has played on hard courts.”
Argentines Carlos Berlocq and Paula Ormaechea will make their debut in the tournament today. Berlocq will face Colombian Santiago Giraldo, while Ormaechea will play against Kimiko Date of Japan.
The other Argentines in the tournament are sixth-ranked Juan Martín del Potro, Juan Mónaco, Horacio Zeballos, Leonardo Mayer, Guido Pella and Máximo González.