Rafael Nadal survived a relatively tough opening match at the 2013 U.S. Open with a straight-set victory over Ryan Harrison.
The 21-year-old Harrison put up a fight with the support from the home crowd. However, Nadal was too good and the 12-time Grand Slam champion won 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.
In the first set, it appeared as though this would be a competitive match that could go the distance. Harrison was excellent with his serve, totaling six aces and winning 19 of his 24 first-serve points. Unfortunately, he was broken one time, which was enough for Nadal to take the set.
Additionally, it was almost impossible for the American to keep up with shots like this:
Grantland's Brian Phillips represented most people watching with his response:
DID YOU SEE WHAT NADAL JUST DID— Brian Phillips (@runofplay) August 26, 2013
The two men continued to battle, although Nadal kept getting the better of his opponent. The U.S. Open Twitter account provided this example of one of the many good rallies won by the Spanish star:
In the second set, the No. 2 seed started to take over with his serve. He won 16 of 18 total service points and once again did not face a single break point.
This was all of the momentum he needed to pull away in the third and final set, winning by a score of 6-2. While Harrison did salvage a couple of games, Sports Illustrated's Beyond the Baseline pointed out that the final set was quite one-sided:
Rafael Nadal up 64 62 40 on Harrison. It's looking very bagel-y on Ashe right now. #usopen— Beyond The Baseline (@SI_BTBaseline) August 26, 2013
Nadal has only won one U.S. Open in his career, but he enters the fourth Grand Slam of the year as the favorite to win it all. Monday's win gives him an incredible 54-3 record on the season, including a 16-0 mark on hard courts.
He also has won notable titles in 2013, including his last two tournaments in Montreal and Cincinnati, both of which were Masters 1000 events.
This is all after missing over seven months with a knee injury. It is clear from his recent success that he is healthy enough to win yet another championship.
Harrison is a talented player with a bright future. The American totaled 11 aces on the day and would have beaten a lot of opponents with the way he played. Unfortunately, he ran into arguably the toughest competitor on tour right now.
Nadal moves on to the second round where he will face the winner of Rogerio Dutra Silva and Vasek Pospisil. If he plays like he did in Round 1, it is hard to imagine either competitor pulling off an upset.
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