• Rafa Nadal overcame an early scare to reach 2nd round in New York
  • Nadal defeated Australia's 21-year-old Rinky Hijikata in 4 sets
  • Nadal will next take on Italy's Fabio Fognini 

Andy Murray heaped praises on Rafael Nadal, calling him one of the best tennis players across "all the surfaces."

Earlier this year, Nadal extended his Grand Slam lead to 22 after he won the Australian Open (hard court) and Roland Garros (clay). He even reached the semi-final at Wimbledon before he was forced to pull out because of an abdominal issue.

Nadal, who is currently playing in the US Open 2022, has progressed to the second round and with his recent victory, the Spaniard has triumphed in all 20 of his matches at major championships this year.

The Spaniard battled back into the game from being two sets down against Daniil Medvedev to win the major title in Melbourne. Recollecting that, Murray termed Nadal's performance as "exceptional."

"He's clearly one of the best players to ever play. Obviously his achievements this year have been brilliant. The match to turn the Australian Open around this year was, you know, exceptional. It was obviously unfortunate at Wimbledon," Murray told reporters after his first-round win at US Open.

"But yeah, I mean, he's obviously still one of the best players in the world on all of the surfaces, as he showed this year," added Nadal, according to Tennis World USA.

Murray is also having a breakthrough year as he returned to the top 50 in the ATP rankings and has a 20-14 record this season. When he reached the final in Sydney earlier this year, it marked Murray's first ATP final since 2019. After that, the Brit reached the final in Stuttgart as well. However, he did not win either of the big games.

On Monday, Murray took two hours and 41 minutes to go past Argentina's Franciso Cerundolo 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 in his opening round at the US Open. With the latest win, Murray improved to 15-1 in the first-round games at the New York tournament and also climbed six places to No. 45 in the latest ATP Live Rankings.

Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray
Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal are currently playing in the U.S. Open 2022 Julian Finney/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Nadal overcame an early scare in his first round against Australia's 21-year-old Rinky Hijikata on Tuesday. The 22-Grand Slam champion lost the first set against the wild-card entrant before sealing the next three to progress to the second round.

Nadal will next take on Italian Fabio Fognini on Thursday at the Flushing Meadows while Murray's second-round fixture is against Emilio Nava of the U.S. on Wednesday.