Rafael Nadal experienced two unsuccessful years in 2015 and 2016, struggling to keep the rivals' pace or fight for Major trophies. One of his worst losses in those years came in Cincinnati 2016, taking only four games against the young gun Borna Coric!
Rafa conquered Monte Carlo and Barcelona that spring before the Roland Garros setback. The Spaniard missed Wimbledon due to an injury and failed to secure a singles medal at the Rio Olympics despite giving his best. Rafa moved to Cincinnati, entering the draw without high hopes or title dreams.
Nadal ousted Pablo Cuevas in the second round despite issues in the second set, making a winning start and arranging the clash against the young gun Borna Coric. The Croat delivered one of the finest performances of his early career, storming over the Spaniard 6-1, 6-3 in 72 minutes!
Thus, Borna became the first U20 player with a Masters 1000 quarter-final since Juan Martin del Potro in Paris 2008. Also, Nadal suffered his worst Masters 1000 loss since Paris 2007.
Rafael Nadal won just four games against Borna Coric in Cincinnati 2016.
Rafa did not look good from the start, receiving a medical timeout in the opening set.
He hit ten winners and 30 unforced errors for one of his career-worst defeats. Borna had lost the previous ten matches against the rivals from the top-10 before improving his tally against Rafa following a reliable performance throughout the clash.
Coric grabbed over half of the return points, with Nadal losing 14 out of 16 points after missing the first serve! Making one mistake after another, Rafa could not challenge the young rival from the baseline. He received treatment on his left arm and shoulder following the opening set that he lost in 27 minutes.
Nadal started to crumble after a promising opening service game. He dropped ten straight games, losing the edge on serve and return. At the end of Coric's streak, Nadal had miserable four winners and 24 unforced errors, which we see only once in a couple of years in his encounters.
Fighting until the end, Nadal pulled one break back in the second set's fifth game. However, it was not enough for a complete turnaround. Borna served for the victory at 5-3 and held after deuce with a backhand down the line winner to notch one of the most significant triumphs of his career and advance to the last eight.
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