Rafael Nadal drops first set but rallies to defeat Rinky Hijikata at US Open quarterfinals
MILWAUKEE – Rafael Nadal rallied to knock out a determined Rinky Hijikata 6-3, 6-2, 6-3. Nadal won his fourth career U.S Open quarterfinal, his fifth of the year, to advance to a semifinal with Kevin Anderson and Andy Murray, who will meet as unseeded players in the fourth quarterfinals Wednesday.
With the win, Nadal moved out of a tie for the No. 4 spot in the rankings. Hijikata, the No. 1 player of the U.S. Open, will play Andy Roddick in the semifinal Thursday.
Nadal opened the night with a 7-5, 6-4, 6-3 romp in the round of 16, becoming the first man to reach the quarterfinals in his first U.S Open since Andre Agassi did it in 1988.
“It’s kind of crazy,” said Nadal, who won his 21st career Grand Slam – tying John McEnroe – in a 5-7, 6-3, 7-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory. “I didn’t have to practice for two weeks. That’s a great feeling.”
Earlier, Nadal broke Hijikata’s serve four times to claim his first win over him in the 13th major. The Japanese native converted three break points and raced to a 2-0 edge in first serve points.
Nadal played a more aggressive game than he did in the first set, when he saved three break points and made a lot of unforced errors.
“I think I have to make some changes,” he said.
Nadal’s aggressive moves were enough to defeat Hijikata. He broke Hijikata twice and converted a break point in the third game.
When Hijikata challenged on his serve in the sixth game, Nadal