Rafael Nadal earns $200,000 for two United Cup losses
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 2986
Rafael Nadal is yet to win a match in 2023. World no. 2 won the opening sets against Cameron Norrie and Alex de Minaur at the United Cup in Sydney, only to fall in the second and third against both rivals. Thus, Nadal has made the worst start to the season of his career, never dropping the year's opening two matches before.
Despite that, Rafa took home $200,000 as a guaranteed fee for the top-10 players at the inaugural United Cup. Nadal fought for over two hours and 40 minutes in both duels, but it was not to be for him. Rafa experienced a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 loss to Cameron Norrie, breaking the rival once in the opener and defending nine out of 11 break points.
Rafael Nadal is 0-2 in 2023 so far.
Norrie grabbed those two breaks in sets two and three to emerge at the top and beat Nadal for the first time. Rafa's second match came against Alex de Minaur, who ousted him 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 in front of the home crowd.
Alex saved eight out of 12 break points and took Nadal's serve six times, including that essential return game at 5-5 in the decider. Rafa fell 3-2 behind in the first set before stepping in and taking four straight games for 6-3.
The Spaniard built the lead in the second set with an early break before the Aussie took charge. Alex seized the fourth break chance in game two with a backhand winner and moved 3-1 in front with another in game four. De Minaur broke Nadal for the third straight time to open a 5-1 gap.
The Aussie erased a 40-0 deficit in game seven and seized the second set point to rattle off six straight games and force a decider. Rafa made a better start, serving well and earning break opportunities in game two. De Minaur denied four and avoided an early setback.
Alex grabbed a break at 15 in game five before Rafa cracked a forehand crosscourt winner in the next one to lock the result at 3-3. The Spaniard held at love in the ninth game for 5-4 and left his opponent serving to stay in the match.
Alex brought the tenth game home at 30 for 5-5 and more drama. Nadal played a terrible service game in the worst moment and got broken at love after a forehand error. De Minaur served for the victory at 6-5 and fired a service winner for a hold at love and a career-best win in his hometown.