By Jude Zoho
Rafael Nadal improved his perfect record in the US Open first-round matches to 12-0 on Monday after tensed encounter to begin his quest for a third title.
Nadal, the 2010 and 2013 champion beat Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 to charge into the second round.
Monday’s victory was Nadal’s fifth in five meetings against the Russian-born player and would meet Italian veteran Andreas Seppi.
Though the Spaniard admitted it was not an easy game, he stressed the his encounter with his first round opponent was a sign the hunger is still there.
Nadal said: “If you are not nervous a little bit it’s time to say goodbye. That’s the real thing,”
“You need to be nervous, that’s part of the competition.
“If you don’t feel that then it’s because you really don’t want to win as much as you need or you are not afraid about the loss.
“When you don’t have those feelings it’s because you don’t have enough motivation for what you are doing,” Nadal was quoted in the a report in www.atpworldtour.com.
Nadal is chasing his third title of 2016 after previous titles in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona in a season plagued by injuries.
Since his 2013 US Open triumph, he has won just one hard-court title, more than two and a half years ago in Doha, 2014.
The Spaniard has won 14 majors, tied with Pete Sampras for second all-time, behind only to Roger Federer with 17.
In the women’s match also played on Monday, second seed, Angelique Kerber needed just 30 minutes to get her pursuit of a first US Open title off to a winning start.
The Australian Open champion was leading Polona Hercog 6-0, 1-0 when the Slovenian called it quits, clearly wilting in the 33-degree heat, having won just nine points.
“It is not the way I wanted to win but I am playing well and feeling good,” the German said.
Kerber, a semifinalist in 2011 next faces Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia.
Tuesday’s fixtures would see Women’s top seed, Serena Williams begin her quest for a record seventh US Open title.
Williams would also be seeking to equal Steffi Graf’s record of 186 successive weeks at World No 1.
A relation of the Williams told BBc sports that 33 year old would be playing for so much, history, records and probably recognition.
What the numbers won’t tell you: She’s playing for something closer to home – and heart. She’s playing for dad, the close family relation said.
He said as Williams launched her quest to become the first player in 27 years to sweep all four Grand Slams in a season, she will do so with countless friends and family at her side.