Overnight came the biggest surprise so far of the Washington tournament. World number 1 and number 3 seeded Rafael Nadal (soon to be number 4 as Stefanos Tsitsipas will overtake him this week) was eliminated in three sets by South African Lloyd Harris.
Rafa still appeared in a non-exemplary condition but managed to fight until the end and almost to the details he gave up against Harris, his second career win against a Top 10. The first set is very balanced and sees Harris get the decisive break in the seventh game, break that will hold until the end of the first set.
In the second set Rafa takes the chair who dominates 6-1 and draws the score. In the third set the balance seems to be able to break again to go to the side of the Spaniard who has several chances to take the lead, but Harris is good at canceling them and in the end he is good at exploiting the only break point of the set which is also the match.
point (on 4-5 and Rafa service) and thus surprisingly close the match.
Nadal after his defeat
Rafael Nadal suffered a setback in his US Open preparations as he was beaten by South Africa's Lloyd Harris in the round of 16 at the Citi Open on Thursday.
The Spaniard was playing his first tournament since losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the semifinals at Roland Garros in June. "As I said before, the best news, the foot was better than yesterday. I was able to move a bit better, so that is very important, especially for me personally, no?" Nadal said to the press.
"To keep enjoying the sport, no, and keep having energy, believing that important things are possible. I need to keep improving. Is true, no? I honestly didn't have two months easy," Nadal said. "I had a lot of problems with my foot.
I was not able to practice all the days that I really wanted, but I did as much as I could. And I tried hard here, no?" Nadal also expressed his disappointment at exiting the 2021 Citi Open so early and vowed to bounce back from the setback.
"Sorry for the defeat, sorry for the tournament that it makes me feel amazing from the beginning. But that's the sport, no? I try very hard, as everybody knows. But was not enough," Nadal said. "Only thing I can do is congratulate my opponent and just keep going. I gonna keep trying to practice the proper way and to give myself a chance to be better soon."