Rafael Nadal def Taro Daniel 46 63 62 62
Like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal has some work to do if he’s going to capture his 16th Major here in New York. Earlier today against Youzhny, Roger was not the Federer we saw capture his 18th and 19th Slams at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. Two weeks ago, after reaching his 142nd career Final at the Montreal Masters, he pulled-out of Cincinnati with a “back issue.” Word around Ashe is that the back tweak has lingered.
That said, Nadal’s performance on Thursday night was not as dramatically deficient as Roger’s. In the first set, Taro Daniel played straight-up, legit tennis. After the third changeover, the 24-year-old overcame a 10-minute, 5-deuce battle to stay on-serve, then shocked everyone with a quick break of the World #1. Before you knew it, Taro Daniel was up a set on a 15-time Major Champion.
Nadal recovered, earned two quick sets to take the lead, then powered through the 4th, only allowing Daniel his first two service games. Serving for the match, Rafa started with a double-fault and fell behind 0-30 before securing the sails and righting the ship.
Unhappy with the overall performance, Rafa was still satisfied with the win, as he told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi during the interview: “It’s true that I didn’t play very well tonight, but it’s true that I’m through – and that’s the most important thing. I believe I can do it much better.”
So do we. So does Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer. Nadal and Mayer will play their 3rd-Round match Saturday. It’ll be their fourth career meeting. Mayer has never taken a set off of the 2-time US Open Champion.