NEW YORK — Rafael Nadal began his bid to complete a career Grand Slam by beating 93rd-ranked Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 at the U.S. Open on Tuesday night.
There were no breaks of serve until it was 3-all in the third set of the first-round match. But Nadal, the top seed, broke Gabashvili there and again in the final game.
"My serve worked well," said Nadal, who saved the only break point he faced.
The match extended Nadal's Grand Slam winning streak to 15 matches, after his titles at the French Open in June and Wimbledon in July. He owns eight major championships but has yet to make it past the semifinals at Flushing Meadows.
There was a lot of hanging in there on a steamy Day 2, when the temperature rose into the 90s. That prompted the tournament to invoke its "extreme weather policy" for women's singles matches; the policy allows players to request a 10-minute break after the second set. More than a dozen women's matches went three sets, including Maria Sharapova's 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory over Jarmila Groth of Australia.
"At the end of the day, even though I know I wasn't playing my best tennis, I know I came out with a win," said Sharapova, seeded 14th.
A half-dozen men's matches lasted the full five sets, including 2007 runnerup Novak Djokovic's victory over his friend and Serbian Davis Cup teammate Viktor Troicki. Tampa resident Mardy Fish, seeded 19th, also won in five sets. Fan favorite and Tampa resident James Blake needed only three to reach the second round, defeating Kristof Vliegen of Belgium 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
Sharapova-Groth was the day's third match in Arthur Ashe Stadium that went the full number of sets, making for a night session that started about 11/2 hours later than the 7 p.m. scheduled start.
Top seed Caroline Wozniacki started her match close to midnight. It was not over at press time. For the result, go to usopen.org.