Rafael Nadal loses to Casper Ruud in Quito

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Rafael Nadal loses to Casper Ruud in Quito

Rafael Nadal lost his first match during the South American swing. A 22-time Major champion lost to Casper Ruud 6-4, 6-4 in Quito, experiencing his first defeat against the Norwegian after beating him in Buenos Aires and Belo Horizonte.

Situated at almost 3000 meters above sea level, Quito was one of the fastest tennis tournaments in the world while it staged the ATP event for four years. A couple of years later, tennis fans in the Ecuadorian capital got a chance to see two of the world's best players.

Ruud played better in the fast conditions and beat his good friend in straight sets. Casper broke early in the first set and clinched it on his serve in game ten for 6-4.

Rafael Nadal lost to Casper Ruud in Quito.

Casper held in the second set's first game with a service winner, and Rafa grabbed the second game with an ace for 1-1.

Ruud fired an ace to clinch the third game, and Nadal responded with a forehand winner in the next one to level the score at 2-2. The Roland Garros and the US Open runner-up went for a serve & volley combo in game five before Rafa forced the rival's mistake a few minutes later for 3-3.

The seventh game reached deuce, and Casper closed it with two winners to remain in front. A kid played a couple of points instead of Rafa, and the Spaniard blasted a powerful forehand winner to close it. Nadal served to stay in the set at 4-5 and sprayed a forehand error to hand the victory to Ruud.

In their previous match in Belo Horizonte, Rafa prevailed 7-6, 7-5 after playing better in the crucial moments. Ruud led 3-0 in the opener before Nadal pulled the break back for 3-3. They served well in the rest of the set, and Rafa clinched it in the tie break 7-4 for a massive boost.

Ruud saved a set point at 4-5 in the second set before Nadal broke him in game 12 to emerge at the top and seal the deal. Nadal and Ruud will play again in Bogota ahead of their crown meeting in Mexico City, which should gather a huge crowd.