Rafael Nadal won his opening match as world number one, advancing into the second round of the US Open 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) on Monday over German Bjorn Phau.
The 136th-ranked qualifier gave the Spanish top seed fits in a one-hour opening set before Nadal settled in for a hard-fought victory in just under three hours.
Nadal, who is trying to follow up on his Olympic gold medal from a week ago, kept his streak of never having lost in a New York first round alive at his sixth appearance. He won his 71st match of the season as he overcame the 28-year-old Phau in the pair's first meeting.
He is bidding to follow Rod Laver, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer as the fourth man to win three consecutive Grand Slam titles in the post-1968 Open era after titles at the French Open and Wimbledon in 2008. ( dpa )