2020 in Review: Rafael Nadal loses first single match of the season but tops..



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2020 in Review: Rafael Nadal loses first single match of the season but tops..

In the ATP Cup quarter-final on January 10, Spain had to work hard to beat Belgium and remain on the title course. In the first match, Roberto Bautista Agut stood strong against Kimmer Coppejans, like against all the lower-ranked rivals that week, scoring a 6-1, 6-4 triumph.

The Spaniard lost serve once and produced four breaks of serve to control the scoreboard and put Spain in front ahead of the more anticipated encounter. In their sixth meeting on the Tour, David Goffin took down world no. 1 Rafael Nadal for the second time, producing a 6-4, 7-6 triumph in two hours and 23 minutes to keep Belgium alive against Spain.

The Belgians had played the group stage in Sydney, while the Spaniards had to come from Perth and change both the court and conditions, with Nadal not finding his balance and rhythm. Delivering a pale performance in the encounter's first part, the Spaniard struggled to keep the pace and impose his shots, battling hard for every point until the end but still falling short in straight sets to suffer only the third loss after Madrid in May 2019!

Aggressive and determined to keep his country in the contention for the place in the semis, Goffin threw everything at Nadal, dictating the exchanges with deep ballas and opening the court for more than 30 winners that kept the momentum on his side.

David managed to tame Nadal's first serve, hammering down his forehands and fending off eight out of ten break chances to limit the damage in his games and mount the pressure on Rafa. The Spaniard offered no less than 14 opportunities to the Belgian, unable to find free points with the initial shot despite much better performance in set number two.

Rafael Nadal suffered a tight ATP Cup defeat to David Goffin.

Nadal had to dig deep already in the second service game, fending off three break chances to avoid an early setback. It was David's turn to show mental toughness in the next game, repelling two break chances and leveling the score at 2-2 with a backhand crosscourt winner.

Rafa hit a double fault to drop serve in game five, pulling it back at 15 a few minutes later when David sprayed a forehand mistake. Serving at 3-4, Goffin faced three break chances, taking five straight points and sealing the game with a forehand winner for an injection of pace.

Staying in touch in game nine, the Belgian converted the fourth break chance when Rafa missed a forehand, moving in front and sealing the opener with a service winner in game ten after an hour of competitive tennis. The lower-ranked player controlled the pace in set number two after an early break, wasting a couple of break chances that could have sent him 5-2 up and allowing Rafa to pull the break back and level the score at 4-4 after forcing an error from his opponent.

The Spaniard found his strokes in those moments, but the Belgian was not to be denied, surviving deuces in games ten and 12 to reach a tie break. David opened a 5-2 gap with a service winner and sealed the deal with an ace at 6-3 to celebrate one of his finest victories.

In the doubles encounter, Nadal returned to the court with Pablo Carreno Busta and prevailed over the Belgian squad to push Spain into the semis.