As was expected, world no. 2 Rafael Nadal wasn't ready to play competitive matches for two days in a row at the Laver Cup in Geneva, withdrawing from the Sunday's encounters due to wrist injury. Nadal defeated Milos Raonic on Saturday and lost the doubles clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas against Nick Kyrgios and Jack Sock, having been scheduled to play against Nick Kyrgios in singles and with Roger Federer in doubles against the American pair of John Isner and Jack Sock.
Now, Federer will team-up with Stefanos Tsitsipas for that doubles clash while Dominic Thiem will fight against Kyrgios in the singles on the deciding day of the competition, with Team Europe leading 7-5 before the last four matches that carry three points each.
Playing for the first time since winning the 19th Major crown at the US Open, Rafael Nadal took down Milos Raonic 6-3, 7-6 in challenging two hours and seven minutes to send Team Europe 7-3 up before the last match of the day.
Rafa and Milos haven't played since the Australian Open 2017 and it was a great battle all the time, with the Spaniard fending off eight out of nine break chances (all eight in the first set) and earning three breaks that carried him towards the 48th victory of the season.
Raonic has been struggling to find the form this season due to injuries but gave everything he had tonight, firing 13 aces and delivering higher numbers behind the first serve, only to be let down by the second serve where Nadal used his opportunity to create damage on the return.
The Spaniard prevailed in the crucial points to seal the deal before the deciding tie break, preparing for another match tonight in the doubles with Stefanos Tsitsipas. Milos had numerous chances to forge the lead in the first set, wasting no less than eight opportunities in games two, four and six, paying the price soon after that as Rafa broke him in the seventh game with a backhand down the line winner.
With the momentum on his side, Nadal broke again in game nine after a loose volley from Raonic for a 6-3 after 55 minutes, hoping for a more relaxed set number two. Instead of that, Milos broke him in the fifth game and stayed in front only for a couple of minutes, with Rafa pulling the break back with a well-constructed attack and a volley winner.
They both served well in the remaining six games to set up a tie break where Nadal had the leading role, clinching it 7-1 with three mini-breaks to seal the deal and send his team 7-3 in front, with five more matches left to be played.
In the last duel of the Saturday's program, Nick Kyrgios and Jack Sock defeated Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 3-6, 10-6 in an hour and 20 minutes to grab two points and reduce the overall deficit, making things very interesting before the fateful day.
It was another mighty close clash that saw two breaks on each side and the better performance from Nick and Jack in the match tie break to cross the finish line first. The American delivered the first break of the match with a forehand down the line winner, with both him and Kyrgios serving well throughout the set to win it 6-4.
Nadal and Tsitsipas managed to earn two points on the return only once and it was all over when Nick hit three winners to secure the opener in 32 minutes. Rafa and Stefanos grabbed a break in the fourth game of the second set when Kyrgios failed to control a smash, breaking Kyrgios two games later after a backhand return winner from Tsitsipas.
The Greek suffered a break in the next game before Nadal held at 15 in the ninth game for a 6-3, sending the clash into a decider where Nick and Jack grabbed four mini-breaks to open a 7-4 advantage. Serving at 9-6, Nick blasted a service winner to seal the deal and earn the much-needed victory after that tight loss against Federer in singles earlier today.