Rafael Nadal drops first set but rallies to defeat Rinky Hijikata at US Open
(CNN)Tiger Woods has been one of the most dominant players in recent years, winning seven of the last nine majors. But he didn’t arrive at the 2018 US Open ranked as high as the previous three champions, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.
In fact, he was ranked 18th in the world.
But no one thought that after his latest meltdown in the quarterfinals, Woods wouldn’t be able to return to his previous form.
He finally did, beating world number 4 Rinky Hijikata 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1). He has now won the US Open in four of his last five years and won the other major in 2017 for the 13th time.
After going down 0-30 in the first set and falling behind 7-0 in the second, he fought back to level the set at 4-4 and eventually won it.
But when he lost again in the third, he saw his momentum all but disappear and he was never sure that he would return to the top.
“You are on top, you are on top when you are serving well and when you are on court, everything is the same,” he said after his first round win over Hijikata. “I have been on top the last two months and I feel like I should be there for this moment.”
Nadal’s first set against Woods was the longest of his seven grand slam finals since 2008, lasting 40 minutes.
Woods’ first match was a marathon
It was his longest set, and it wasn’t even his only one over the six-hour match. Here’s how it went down in the first set
Woods breaks it open
Nadal had made the same first serve, 14 of 19, in all seven sets of their head-to-head