US Open 2015: Rafa Nadal And Serena Williams Struggle To Reach Round 3

Alanna Vopni

Rafael Nadal advances to the third round of the 2015 US Open, after a hard fought battle, with a straight sets (7-6 (7-5) 6-3 7-5) win over Argentine Diego Schwartzman.

Rafa’s first match, against teenage talent Barna Coric saw him returning to form, especially in the second set when he dominated with blistering forehands, well-placed serves, and few unforced errors to break Coric twice. In a year where Nadal’s not made it past the quarterfinals of any of the slams, it was an important win for the Spaniard.

Where the match between Nadal and Coric was a battle between two very talented players, led primarily by Rafa due to his experience and what looked like a renewed confidence (or perhaps a desire for revenge — it was Coric who beat Nadal in his last match last year before he underwent appendix surgery). Yesterday’s bout with Schwartzman was more about Rafa digging into the depths within himself for the win. BBC Sport reported from Nadal’s press conference that he felt it was going to be critical to take the early lead.

“I feel lucky to be through. It was very humid and Diego was very aggressive so to take the first set was very important.”

In all three sets, Nadal dug himself a hole he had to crawl out of by falling behind in the tiebreaker in the first set and dropping service games in both the second and third sets. And the crawl was made that much harder with a count of 40 unforced errors for the match. That Rafa won the contest is the most important thing, but it’s brought questions about his lack of stellar play this year to the surface with a vengeance, enough to clearly annoy Nadal.

“I am number eight in the world. I am not number 100. It seems like I am number 200 in every press conference. I am not so bad.”

Rafa’s next match will pit him against Fabio Fognini, a player who’s already beaten Nadal this year. But Fognini runs hot and cold, so depending on the day for both he and Nadal, it could go either way.

Serena Williams was also forced to grit it out in her match against Kiki Bertens. The first set was tight and Williams fell back to 0-4 in the tiebreaker before clawing her way back to win the set. Finally taking the match in straight sets 7-6 (7-5) 6-3.

“I’ve been really relaxed, but today I was a little tight and I think it showed.”

In other news, Novak Djokovic made it through his match against Andreas Haider-Maurer in straight sets (6-4 6-1 6-2) and danced with a fan in celebration.

Defending champion Marin Cilic and tenth seed Milos Raonic both advanced while Grigor Dimitrov was ousted in five sets by Mikhail Kukushkin. Feliciano Lopez also moved on by besting Mardy Fish, prompting him to say his goodbyes to professional tennis.

On the women’s side, Eugenie Bouchard and Venus Williams both advanced.

[Image courtesy Clive Brunskill/Getty Images]