WORLD No.1 Rafael Nadal has battled back after dropping the first set to subdue Japan’s 121st-ranked Taro Daniel and reach the third round of the US Open.
The 31-year-old Spaniard won his ATP-best 51st match of the year by 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 over the 24-year-old New York native, who fell to 0-4 against top-10 rivals.
“It’s a very important victory,” Nadal said. “It’s true I didn’t play very well tonight, but it’s true I’m through to the third round.”
Nadal, a 15-time Grand Slam champion who captured his 10th French Open crown in June, will face 59th-ranked Argentine lucky loser Leonardo Mayer on Saturday for a berth in the last 16.Mayer is 0-3 against Nadal, losing most recently in the third round of his 2014 title run at Roland Garros.
“I didn’t play very well but tomorrow I will work hard to find better feelings because I know I can do much better,” said Nadal, the 2010 and 2013 champion.
The highest-seeded obstacle in Nadal’s path to the semi-finals, and a possible first-ever US Open matchup with long-time rival Roger Federer, is Belgian ninth seed David Goffin.