Rafael Nadal fails to match Ivan Lendl
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 3972
Only five players have scored 1000 ATP victories in the Open era. Jimmy Connors and Roger Federer lead the field, followed by Ivan Lendl, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Nadal had a chance to reach Lendl's 1068 ATP wins in Sydney on Saturday, facing Cameron Norrie at the United Cup and hoping to match the Czech.
Instead, Rafa experienced a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 loss in two hours and 44 minutes to kick off the season with a defeat and remain on 1067 ATP triumphs. The Spaniard will have a chance to change that versus Alex De Minaur in a couple of days.
Norrie overpowered Nadal on the fast court and played better in sets two and three to secure his first victory over the Spaniard in five encounters. Norrie saved five out of six break points and grabbed two breaks from 11 opportunities to cross the finish line first.
Rafa served well in the opener and delivered a break that pushed him in front. The returners had no chances in the first five games, and Cameron missed a game point at 2-3. Rafa broke him with a forehand crosscourt winner and gained a 4-2 advantage.
Rafael Nadal will seek his 1068th victory against Alex de Minaur.
The Spaniard saved a break point with a forehand winner in the next one and brought it home after deuces for 5-2. Nadal served for the set in game nine and fired a service winner for 6-3 in 52 minutes, keeping his perfect score versus Norrie.
The second set offered five commanding holds, and Cameron settled into a fine rhythm behind the initial shot. It gave him a boost to push hard on the return, creating three break chances at 3-2. Nadal bounced back to deuce and defended the fourth break point with a service winner.
Cameron seized the fifth break opportunity after Rafa's loose backhand to open a 4-2 gap. The Briton defended a break point in the next one with a service winner and created two set points on the return at 5-3. Nadal denied them and held to prolong the set.
Norrie stayed focused and held in game nine to introduce a decider after an hour and 37 minutes. The final set lasted over an hour, and Cameron prevailed with a single break. Rafa saved a break point in game three with an unreturned serve and faced more troubles at 2-2.
A 22-time Major winner fell behind when Norrie cracked a backhand down the line winner that pushed him 3-2 up. Cameron saved two break points in the sixth game to cement the advantage and move closer to the finish line. The Briton saved another break point in game eight with a forehand winner and served for the victory at 5-4. Norrie landed a forehand down the line winner for a hold at love and one of his career-best triumphs.