TennisSection previews the 2022 US Open as Rafael Nadal takes on Rinky Hijikata in the first round on Tuesday, August 30th, 2022.
There will be a lot at stake as Rafael Nadal bids to win his 23rd Grand Slam title at the 2022 US Open. And the Spaniard should be delighted with the generous draw he has received in his quest to achieve that milestone. He opens up against Australian wild card Rinky Hijikata. Is an upset on the cards? Surely not.
Rafael Nadal is one of five players who could leave New York with the No. 1 ranking. The legendary Spaniard is returning to the US Open for the first time since 2019 – the year he won his fourth title at Flushing Meadows. Rafa has a great chance of tying Federer’s record of five titles in these parts, along with other legends of the game such as Pete Sampras and Jimmy Connors – who also hold that distinction. However, there are serious question marks regarding Nadal’s match practice and fitness levels. He played just one competitive match after Wimbledon – a second-round defeat at the Cincinnati Masters to Borna Coric.
Rinky Hijikata, meanwhile, is into the US Open main draw as a wild card entrant. The Australian young gun ranks 19th in the ATP Race to Milan which accounts for points earned in 2022 among the Next Gen players. Hijikata has won 41 matches across all levels this year, with most of those coming from the ITF circuit where he plies his trade. He has won two titles at that level in 2022 and recently broke inside the top 200 for the first time in his career with a runner-up finish at the M25 ITF in Columbus
Rafael Nadal and Rinky Hijikata have no previous history on the ATP Tour. Their first-round match at the US Open will be their first official meeting. If you watched the Los Cabos tournament, you must have seen a glimpse of Hijikata’s potential. He ran Medvedev very close in that match, pulling off some really fine shotmaking from the baseline and mixing things with his backhand slice and dropshots. He will certainly need to play even better than against Medvedev to disrupt Nadal’s rhythm at every opportunity. But with all things considered, the four-time champion looks nailed-on to make the second round.
Free Tennis Prediction and Pick: Rafael Nadal in 3 Sets.
Join TopCourt now to learn from some of the best tennis players in the world! Find our exclusive 14-day FREE-trial here!