What a year it has been for Rafael Nadal.
Out of his 14 singles tournaments so far in 2017, the Spaniard has only failed to make the quarter-finals on three occasions whilst clinching silverware four times, ultimately returning to the peak of the world rankings.
However, the 31-year-old hasn’t reached the final of a competition in his last three tournaments and after bowing out in the quarters of the Cincinnati Masters a fortnight ago, Nadal will be aiming to regain his superiority during the US Open.
Nadal kicked off the competition with a 7-6 6-2 6-2 victory over Croatian Dusan Lajovic in the Round of 128 on Tuesday before going head-to-head with Japan’s Taro Daniel on Friday.
Despite the match going to four sets, the Spaniard was the victor on the day even though he didn’t get off to the best of starts.
After trailing by a set and a break, the 31-year-old did manage to turn proceedings around during the second set before going onto book his place in the last 32 after claiming a 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 win.
Following the win, Nadal confessed that he did feel the nerves at the beginning of the match, despite being the favourite to progress to the next round:
“Of course, there is nerves there at the beginning," he said via Metro.
“Yeah, when you have some nerves, when you don’t convert love-30s, couple love-30s in a row, 15-30s, then some breakpoints, you arrive to 4-all.
“The opponent, very first breakpoint, he make it. Well, he make it? Of course, I miss it. Yeah, you feel one set down. Then, of course, you play under more pressure.
“It was a tough start of the second. I think the speed was positive. It was a good fight. I think I improved. The last two sets I played better, and that’s important for what’s coming.
“But, of course, it’s a day to be satisfied. Days that you’re not playing well, that’s makes the difference: win when you don’t play very well.
“That gives me the possibility to play better. As I said the other day, I am practising well. I need to compete better. I believe I can do it.”
Top seed Nadal, who already has two US Open winners medals under his belt, will face Argentinian Leonardo Mayer in the last 32 on Saturday.