Kei Nishikori had to wait seven years and eight encounters to secure his first victory over Rafael Nadal. It came in the 2015 Montreal quarter-final, with the Japanese beating the Spaniard in straight setd. Nadal struggled with an injury in the second part of 2014 and could not find the rhythm in the following season.
The Spaniard experienced his second Roland Garros loss and barely stayed in the top-10 thanks to titles in Stuttgart and Hamburg. Nadal tried his best to find the form ahead of the North American hard-court swing, but it did not happen.
Nadal toppled Sergiy Stakhovsky and Mikhail Youzhny to advance into the last eight in Montreal, facing the 4th seed Kei Nishikori in a battle for the semi-final. It was their eighth meeting on the Tour and the first victory for the Japanese.
He ousted the Spaniard 6-2, 6-4 in an hour and 23 minutes to reach the last four. Kei's first serve proved the most potent weapon. He fended off two out of three break chances and mounted the pressure on the other side. Rafa sprayed six double faults and failed to do much behind the initial shot, getting broken four times from as many chances offered to Kei and hitting the exit door.
Rafael Nadal lost to Kei Nishikori in straight sets in Canada 2015.
Nishikori landed two great winners in the encounter's second game to get his name on the scoreboard. He grabbed a break a few minutes later for an early lead and momentum.
Firing from all cylinders, Kei secured another break in game five and clinched the opener with a forehand winner at 5-2, hoping for more in set number two. Nadal hit a double fault at 1-1 to experience a break, finding himself 6-2, 3-1 down.
Racing toward the finish line, Nishikori placed a return winner to earn another break and open a 4-1 gap. He extended the advantage in game six before Nadal pulled one break back at 2-5 to remain in contention. Rafa held at 15 in game nine with a forehand crosscourt winner to reduce the deficit to 5-4, forcing the rival to serve for the victory for the second time.
Kei painted a forehand winner in the next one to seal the deal and beat Rafa for the first time in a career. It was Nadal's first season since 2004 without the Masters 1000 title by the time of the Canada Masters. Despite a solid effort in Shanghai and Paris, his form did not improve for the rest of the season.
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