Rafael Nadal is working hard ahead of his comeback in Montreal next week and is doing everything he can to recover from an abdominal injury. A year ago, Rafa was struggling with a foot injury and only played two games after Washington. Nadal injured his foot in the Roland Garros semifinals against Novak Djokovic, skipping Wimbledon and the Olympics.
The Spaniard started training again in July and surprised everyone after winning the ATP 500 Washington wildcard. Rafa debuted in the American capital and enjoyed a great few days exploring the city, receiving positive vibes from the crowd and feeling their support.
Rafa made his debut against Jack Sock in the second round, testing his foot to the limit. The Spaniard prevailed in the tiebreak of the deciding set and spent over three hours on the court. Nadal stepped on the court in the third round against Lloyd Harris and suffered a 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 loss in two hours and ten minutes.
The Spaniard didn’t play badly but it wasn’t enough to carry him home after losing ground in crucial moments. Harris had 16 aces and saved four out of six break chances. Playing against three break chances, Nadal held at love in sets one and three to end his run sooner than expected.
Rafa had 26 winners and 11 unforced errors. In comparison, Lloyd had 38 winners and 21 errors, played aggressive tennis and got it right when it counted. The South African broke Nadal in game seven of the opener at 15 and fended off a break chance with a forehand crosscourt winner in game ten to take it 6-4.
Rafael Nadal enjoyed his time in Washington last year.
Starting over, Nadal upped his level in set number two, grabbing breaks in games four and six to win it 6-1 and gain momentum. Lloyd saved two break chances early in the final set and another at 2-2 with a powerful serve.
The South African returned at 5-4 and placed a perfect lob winner to steal Nadal’s serve and seal the deal to celebrate the most notable win of a career. “The atmosphere was fantastic right from the start.
I can’t thank everyone here in Washington enough. Honestly, the support and energy levels were tremendous. I try to make things as good as possible. If that inspires the kids to catch a bat, I’m glad.
We need kids to play tennis as much as possible, and if my arrival in Washington has helped add a young kid to the world of tennis, I’m proud. I hope tennis stays at the highest level of popularity and attracts many people worldwide.
My first trip to Washington was excellent. People are very passionate about our sport. The most painful thing is not being able to step out onto the pitch in front of this incredible crowd tomorrow. Getting to know a new city was a great experience for me. I enjoyed it and will remember people’s support and love,” said Rafael Nadal.