It’s been three years since Rafael Nadal last won the U.S. Open, and his quest to win another title at Flushing-Meadows begins on Monday afternoon. He takes on Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan in the first round of this year’s tournament.
Nadal is 4-0 against Istomin, last beating him at the 2014 Miami Masters. The two faced off in the 2010 U.S. Open as Nadal won in straight sets. In their fifth ever matchup, No.4 seeded Nadal is a heavy favorite against the No. 107-ranked player.
Since winning the 2014 French Open, Nadal hasn’t come very close to winning another Grand Slam title. He’s only reached two quarterfinals since then, and he hasn’t been beyond the third round of a Grand Slam tournament in 2016. After being eliminated in the first round of the Australian Open and withdrawing from the third round of the French Open, Nadal skipped Wimbledon because of a wrist injury.
Nadal was ousted in the semifinals of the Rio Olympics in men’s singles, though he did win gold in men’s doubles with Marc Lopez. After the Summer Games, Nadal went to Cincinnati for the Western & Southern Open, where he lost in the second round.
Nadal’s last singles win came in Barcelona four months ago when he defeated Kei Nishikori in the finals. He didn’t lose a set in the entire tournament. Nadal also won the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, defeating the likes of Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray along the way.
Novak Djokovic is the world’s top-ranked player, but Murray and Wawrinka also rank ahead of Nadal. Roger Federer is one spot ahead of Nadal in the ATP rankings, but he won’t step onto the court again until 2017 because of a knee injury.
If Nadal defeats Istomin as expected, he’ll go on to face the winner of the match between Stephane Robert and Andreas Seppi.
Start Time: 4 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Online Stream: WatchESPN