Rafael Nadal began his quest for a record-extending 23rd grand slam at the US Open with a battling win over Australian qualifier Rinky Hijikata.
The Spaniard had to battle back from a set down to beat Hijikata 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-3 in his first appearance at the tournament since the 2019 edition.
Playing in only his second match after pulling out of Wimbledon with an abdominal injury, Nadal looked rusty to begin the proceedings going down a set. But any hopes of an upset were quickly dashed as Nadal charged through the second and third sets, improving his game vastly in every aspect.
Hijikata gave it one last shot in the fourth set against Nadal, saving four match points before succumbing to a vicious forehand to bring his US Open to a close.
In other fixtures, Carlos Alcaraz of Spain advanced to the second round of the competition with a 7-5, 7-5, 2-0 win over Sebastian Baez. With Djokovic out of the picture, Alcaraz is one of the likeliest players to walk away from this tournament as a first-time grand slam champion.
Cameron Norrie, meanwhile, reached the next round with a bizarre 6-0, 7-6, 6-0 win over Benoît Paire as the Frenchman seemed uninterested in playing tennis for most of the match.
Cincinnati Open winner Borna Coric, Jannik Sinner, Marin Čilić, Andrey Rublev, Holger Rune, John Isner, Grigor Dimitrov, Denis Shapovalov and Hubert Hurkacz also reached the next stage.