Defending champion Rafael Nadal of Spain looked far from his best as he played his opening encounter of the 2011 US Open against World No. 97 Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan. Finally, Nadal managed to muster a hard-fought victory against Golubev with a 6-3 7-6 (1) 7-5 scoreline.
Second-seeded and defending champion Rafael Nadal had to sweat it out against World No. 97 Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan in his opening encounter here at Flushing Meadows on Wednesday evening, but finally Nadal prevailed in three sets with a 6-3 7-6 (1) 7-5 scoreline and secured his berth in the second-round of the 2011 US Open, this season’s last Grand Slam. In the second-round, Nadal will take on World No. 98 Nicolas Mahut of France, who rallied from two sets down to beat Colombian qualifier Robert Farah with a 3-6 6-7 6-2 6-4 6-0 scoreline.
Re-live the excitement of this duel!
Nadal clearly struggled in this match, but finally managed to sail home, as Golubev could not maintain the momentum in the crucial moments of the match and lost this battle in 2 hours and 49 minutes. Nadal fired 6 aces, but committed only 16 unforced errors as compared to Golubev’s 59. But, the Kazak made up for these mistakes by hammering 41 winners as compared to Nadal’18. Finally, Nadal converted 8 out of 22 break points and emerged victorious.
Nadal took 41 minutes to win the first set. After making an ordinary start to the match, Nadal bounced back brilliantly and finally clinched it - on a convincing note. Nadal earned 83% points on his first serve, as he hammered 9 winners and converted 2 out of 4 break points in the first set. Golubev committed 12 unforced errors, which proved costly to him - in the end of the first set.
Both the players exchanged breaks and the second-set reached a tie-breaker. And, after 75 minutes of gruelling play, Nadal managed to win the second-set in a lop-sided tie-breaker with a 7-6 (1). Golubev put up a brave fight until that tie-breaker. Nadal committed only 4 unforced errors as compared to Golubev's 26, while the Kazak did the same in terms of mustering winners, as he earned 21 winners as compared to Nadal's 4 winners - in the second-set.
Once again, Golubev earned the initial breakthrough in the third set, but Nadal immediately broke back and finally levelled the score at 5-5 each. Then, the defending champion broke the Kazak again in the crucial twelfth game of the third set and won the match – in straight sets.