The 2013 champion Rafael Nadal will skip the Cincinnati Masters for the fourth straight season due to a foot injury. Nadal claimed the Canada Open title in 2018 and 2019, opting not to play in Cincinnati after that and not traveling to the USA the previous summer.
Thus, Rafa's last match at the Masters 1000 event in Ohio remains his 6-2, 7-5 loss to Nick Kyrgios from 2017, when the Aussie toppled him in the quarters in 80 minutes. Rafa and Nick had to endure double duties at the office that Friday in Cincinnati four years ago, defeating Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Ivo Karlovic before their quarter-final clash in the night sessions.
As we already said, Nick won that one to advance into the third Masters 1000 semi-final. In May, Rafa ousted Kyrgios 6-3, 6-1 at Madrid Masters following a dominant display. It was all about young Aussie three months later, producing a powerful performance to outplay Nadal completely.
Nick had problems with his left hip and could not find a proper form in the previous months, having to retire in three consecutive matches and never reaching the quarter-final after Miami. Pumped by a big stage and a great rival on the other side of the net, Kyrgios kept the focus without usual mistakes or tantrums, motivated to produce his best tennis and show his abilities.
Nick overpowered Rafa in every segment, dropping 15 points in ten service games and fending off two out of three break chances, losing ground only in the closing stages for a single game.
Nick Kyrgios defeated Rafael Nadal in straight sets in Cincinnati 2017.
The Aussie was a more determined player from the field, keeping his backhand safe and making 16 errors in the entire clash.
His groundstrokes were deep and potent, forcing Nadal to stay out of balance and not allowing the Spaniard to impose his pace and spread him over the baseline. Rafa had many troubles behind the initial shot, struggling in almost every point after missing the first serve and getting broken four times.
Unable to play in his usual rhythm, the Spaniard made many errors in his efforts to penetrate rock-solid rival, returning Nick's serves almost from the stands in a clear sign that he did not feel well on the court. In addition, we saw unusual signs of mental weakness from world no.
2, as he lost serve at love right after he broke Nick for the first time! Kyrgios had 21 service winners while Nadal stayed on 13, and it was 16-12 in the winners from the field for a younger player, with both hitting more powerful strokes from a forehand wing.
Kyrgios had 11 unforced errors, nine less than Nadal, who hit 13 with his forehand and seven from a backhand side. They were neck and neck in the forced errors segment (7-5 for Nadal), while Nick made three double faults more.
The Aussie had many more winners and fewer mistakes to emerge as a deserved winner and hold the strings of the encounter in his hands. 66% of the points ended within four shots, and Nick was 45-29 in front. Kyrgios also had a 21-17 advantage in the more extended exchanges to seal the deal in straight sets.
Nick was off to a flying start, taking the opening four games in 13 minutes and making a single error! The Aussie secured the set with a hold in game eight after 25 minutes and clinched another break at 2-2 in set number two to take another big step towards the finish line.
Until 5-4, Kyrgios had dropped only eight points behind the initial shot, and he suffered a break in the worst moment to bring Rafa back to 5-5. It was not to be for Nadal, though, as he got broken at love in game 11 and allowed Kyrgios to seal the deal with three winners a few minutes later.