Nadal, the No. 2 seed and the favorite to win, according to many observers, breezed to a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 victory.
“I played well,” Nadal said “I just played well, I think. I played a very good level.”
It was Nadal’s first match at the U.S. Open since he lost in the 2011 final to Novak Djokovic. He missed the latter half of last season and the first two months of this year with a left knee injury.
Both players had 28 winners, but the 97th-ranked Harrison had made 34 unforced errors to 21 for Nadal. The 12-time major champion pounced on Harrison’s second serve, winning 71 percent of the points on it. And with Harrison getting in just 62 percent of his first serves, Nadal had plenty of chances to break.
In his last major, Wimbledon, Nadal lost in the first round for the first time.
Harrison, 21, falls to 0-20 against top-10 opponents.
“Obviously my best today wasn’t good enough,” Harrison said. “He won pretty comfortably. Hopefully, you know, I can just get back to work and keep the process going.”
Despite some struggles this season, Harrison remained upbeat about where he’s headed.
“Anyone that’s ever gone through a rough patch in a career they’re passionate about, if they didn’t learn from it they’re not really trying very hard,” Harrison said. “Whether it’s tennis or whatever it is, you look back and reflect on unsuccessful moments. You reflect on failed opportunities and trials and things that you’re trying in your game. You learn from it. You ultimately come out a better player from not having the success that you want.”
So, despite his 11-18 record on the season, he has not lost faith: “I’m 21 years old. If I lost faith in my career at this point, that would be pretty embarrassing. So no.”