What happened in Rafael Nadal's most recent Cincinnati match?
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 6226
Rafael Nadal returns to Cincinnati for the first time in five years on Wednesday. Rafa faces Borna Coric in his first match at the Cincinnati Masters since 2017 when he lost to Nick Kyrgios in the quarter-final. It was the seventh quarter-final for the Spaniard in Ohio.
Still, he did not remember it for too long after experiencing a 6-2, 7-5 loss in 80 minutes. Nadal defeated Richard Gasquet and Albert Ramos-Vinolas to set the Nick Kyrgios clash. The Aussie proved too strong for Rafa in the second match of the day for both players.
Kyrgios struggled with his left hip and could not find a proper form in the previous months. He retired in three consecutive matches and never reached the quarter-final after Miami. Pumped by a big stage and a great rival on the other side of the net, Nick kept his 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 maintain a high level throughout the encounter.
Nick Kyrgios defeated Rafael Nadal in straight sets in Cincinnati 2017.
The Aussie was determined.
He kept his backhand safe and made 16 errors in the entire clash. His groundstrokes were deep and potent, forcing Nadal to stay out of balance and struggle to impose his strokes. Unable to find a proper answer in his games, the Spaniard 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 Kyrgios' 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 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, looking good to seal the deal soon after that.
Instead, he suffered a break in the worst moment to bring Rafa back to 5-5 and prolong the battle. 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.