ATP Washington: Rafael Nadal wins epic clash over Jack Sock



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ATP Washington: Rafael Nadal wins epic clash over Jack Sock

World no. 3 Rafael Nadal made a memorable debut at the City Open in Washington, beating Jack Sock 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 after three hours and four minutes. It was Nadal's sixth win over the American from as many encounters, and he had to work hard for it, overcoming a break deficit in the decider and dominating the tie break to score a win and move into the next round.

Competing for the first time in almost two months, Rafa fended off eight out of ten break chances and stole Jack's serve thrice. The Spaniard fired 41 winners and 17 unforced errors, and it was barely enough to get him through in a high-quality contest that kept the crowd on the edge of their seats.

Rafa served at 47% in the opening set and had troubles in a single game when he fended off three break chances. After that, he broke the American's serve twice in a row to take it 6-3 and gather momentum ahead of set number two.

Both players served well in the opening two games before the Spaniard experienced difficulties. Rafa saved three break points with winners and held for 2-1 when Jack sent a forehand long after four deuces. Sock forced Nadal's error in the next one to erase a break point and level the score at 2-2.

Rafa grabbed the fifth game with a forehand crosscourt winner and clinched a break in the next one when Jack netted a forehand. Nadal cemented the lead with a hold at deuce and wrapped up the set with a forehand return winner at 5-2 thanks to another break of serve and his 13th winner.

Sock closed the second set's second game with a booming serve, and Nadal held at 30 in the next one to remain 3-2 ahead. The home player grabbed his first break at 3-3 when Nadal netted a forehand, forging the advantage and holding at 15 to build a 5-3 lead.

Serving to stay in the set, Rafa fended off three set points in the ninth game and forced Jack to serve out for it. Staying calm, Sock sealed the set with a service winner in game ten, gathering a boost ahead of the decider and looking good to challenge Nadal even more.

Rafael Nadal needed over three hours to beat Jack Sock in Washington.

Losing ground in those moments, the 20-time Major winner hit a forced error at the beginning of the final set to fall behind, having to chase the result from an early stage.

Rafa wasted a break chance in the second game before holding at 15 to reduce the deficit. The American completed the fourth game with a couple of winners to keep the lead and move 3-1 in front. Digging deep, Nadal broke back in game six to level the score at 3-3 and extend his chances.

The Spaniard held with an ace in game seven to move in front and become the favorite to cross the finish line first. Jack saved a break point in the eighth game and held after three deuces to level the score and increase drama ahead of the remaining games.

Rafa earned the ninth game with a hold at 15, leaving his opponent to serve for staying in the match. Remaining composed, Sock closed the tenth game with a forehand winner to send pressure back to the other side. The more experienced player sealed the 11th game with a service winner, forcing Jack to serve for staying in the match for the second time.

The American brought the 12th game home at love after an ace to set up a deciding tie break after almost three hours! The Spaniard opened a 3-0 gap with a running forehand winner at the net and moved 5-0 up with a drop shot winner.

Doing everything right, Rafa emerged at the top with a forehand down the line winner at 6-1 to celebrate the first victory in almost two months and advance into the third round.