In our Shotmaking series, Anita Aguilar will provide the photos and Steve Tignor will provide the captions. Together, they'll tell the story of a match at the U.S. Open.
Rafa didn't waste any time getting a look at the new, partially constructed roof above Arthur Ashe Stadium. It seemed to increase the humidity on an already stuffy night inside the arena.
Coric sounded hyped up, and a little nervous, in his pre-match interview. But he made the most of his first night-match experience at the Open.
Coric waiting to return serve. If there was a shot that hurt him the most, it was this one. More specifically, it was his positioning on the return, and during the rallies; in both cases, he spent too much time behind the baseline. The 18-year-old has the game to beat Nadal—he had won their only prior meeting, last fall—but he didn't use it aggressively enough on Monday night.
Nadal had a chance to hit a lot of balls, and his on-the rise backhand got better as the match progressed.
"I sweated a lot," Nadal said—hence the small army of towels next to him here. He also said an upset stomach tired him in the middle of the match.
Rafa's uncle Toni said that they've been working on "little things," but that his nephew still has his old confidence.
Nadal served well for the most part—six aces and 72 percent of first serves made. Later in the match, his service speed dropped and he committed a couple of crucial double faults, but he finished with a flourish, and won 16 of 17 points at the net.
Rafa was effective with his down-the-line forehand.
The shorts were shorter than ever, but the fist was raised just as high.
Coric struggled to keep the ball in the court early, but hung in and found his range in the third set.
A blistering crosscourt backhand, a leap of joy, and the set, as well as the New York crowd, were his.
As the fourth set began, it looked like a long and nervy night was in store for Nadal.
Coric has been called Baby Djokovic; can you see why?
Nadal, who has lost just one match at the Open this decade, looked happy to be taking another bite of the Big Apple after his 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 win.