Fourth seed Rafael Nadal said that he feels honoured to be the first player at the US Open to have played under the new roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday.
The Spanish two-time champion beat Italy’s Andreas Seppi 6-0, 7-5, 6-1 to set up a third-round clash against Russian Andrey Kuznetsov.
In the second set, light rain started to fall and the new $150 million roof was used for the first time, taking just five minutes to close before Seppi and Nadal were able to resume their match.
In an interview with reporters after his win, Nadal said he was delighted to be the first player to play with the roof closed, adding that there was no big difference on court with the closed roof.
"It’s great to be the first player to play with the roof closed, on the competition, because I was the first player to hit in the centre court with the roof closed," said Nadal.
"With the roof open there is no wind at all, so it’s not a big change. And the roof is so high you don’t feel that you are closed. I didn’t feel the change. It’s great. It’s an unbelievable, unbelievable court."
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The 30-year-old Nadal said one thing he did notice was that the new stadium was more noisy than usual.
"That surprised me," Nadal said. "There was a little bit more noise than usual."
"I always love the energy and the noise of the New York crowd," he said.
"It’s just fantastic. I feel very close to them because I play with a lot of passion, and they give me that electricity, that passion."
Nadal said overall he was very happy with the way he had played against Seppi and especially that his forehand 'down the line' was working well.
"The last forehand of the match was great," said Nadal. "I hit some good forehands down the line again. That’s an important shot for me."