Rafael Nadal has always favored the Canada Open more than Cincinnati, winning five titles in Montreal and Toronto in comparison to one at the Western & Southern Open. Nadal's only Cincinnati title came in 2013 during his incredible streak that summer.
It is unlikely that the Spaniard will add more trophies to his tally, skipping Cincinnati for four straight years after 2017. In his last Ohio campaign four years ago, Nadal defeated Richard Gasquet and Albert Ramos-Vinolas to reach the seventh Cincinnati quarter-final and set Nick Kyrgios clash.
The Aussie proved to be too strong for Rafa on that day, beating him 6-2, 7-5 in 80 minutes for a place in the semis. Both players had to compete twice that day, and Nick had more weapons against world no. 2, bouncing back after a tough loss to Rafa in Madrid in May and producing a compelling performance to outplay the Spaniard on the fast hard court.
Kyrgios struggled with his left hip and could not find a proper form in the previous months, retiring 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, Nick kept the focus without usual mistakes or tantrums, motivated to show his best tennis.
He overwhelmed Rafa in every segment, dropping 15 points in ten service games and fending off two out of three break chances to keep focus throughout the encounter.
Nick Kyrgios defeated Rafael Nadal in straight sets in Cincinnati 2017.
The Aussie was a more determined player, keeping his backhand safe and making 16 errors in the entire clash.
His groundstrokes were deep and potent, and they forced Nadal to stay out of balance and struggle to impose his strokes. Unable to find a proper answer in his games and mount some pressure on his opponent, Rafa got broken four times to propel the Aussie over the top.
Not trusting his strokes, Nadal sprayed too many mistakes and stood miles behind the baseline in attempts to return Nick's bombs from the serve. Also, Rafa got broken at love right after stealing the rival's serve, which we do not often see in his matches.
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. Nick had 11 unforced errors, nine less than Nadal, who hit 13 from his forehand and seven from a backhand side.
66% of the points ended within four shots, and Nick was 45-29 in front. He 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 after 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.