Rafael Nadal drops first set but rallies to defeat Rinky Hijikata at US Open final
The last time Rafael Nadal played a US Open final, he had a two-set lead and won the title.
The second-seeded Spaniard saw his hopes of winning his first Grand Slam title evaporate when he was thoroughly outplayed in the fifth set against world No. 1, Riquna Rahman.
Now, with Nadal on the verge of his second US Open title, a chance to win his first Grand Slam title since Roland Garros in 2015, as well as his third US Open, Rafa is facing his toughest challenge of the year.
A three-time US Open champion and one of the world’s greatest ever players, Nadal was never in danger during the first set and he took full advantage of that in the second with a thrilling three-loveer to grab the set.
The Spaniard has never lost a career grand slam and he has won the entire series twice against Riquna, most recently in Rome in 2014.
Rafael Nadal celebrates with his brother Ivan in front of the trophy at the 2018 Australian Open. Photo by Michael Steele/Reuters
Rahman had a different path to the US Open final.
The 22-year-old from Bangladesh had to get past the top-ranked player in his own country. Rahman had been beaten three times in five starts this year. His highest ranking was No. 39.
Nadal was the only player in the US Open final who had not lost a set against the 19-year-old player.
Nadal became US Open champion in 2013 and won the title in 2014 in New York, his first major title.
Rahman, who turned pro in 2016, finished second at the US Open to Bernard Tomic of Australia in 2014, and then won it in 2015 with an impressive