NEW YORK (AP) — Rafael Nadal opened defense of his U.S. Open title with a tougher-than-expected struggle Tuesday night — a 6-3, 7-6 (1), 7-5 victory over 98th-ranked Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan.
Coming off two disappointing results in the leadup to Flushing Meadows, the second-seeded Nadal showed his fair share of rust in his 2011 debut in Arthur Ashe Stadium. He staved off seven set points in the second set and needed to rally from two breaks down in the third.
Nadal, who was only broken twice in the first six matches en route to the title last year, was broken six times in his first match this year.
His next match will be against Nicolas Mahut, the Frenchman who lost the 70-68 fifth set to John Isner at Wimbledon last year.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)