Canada Flashback: Rafael Nadal experiences heavy loss to Kei Nishikori

Rafael Nadal suffers a heavy loss against Kei Nishikori

Between 2005 and 2014, Rafael Nadal clinched at least one major title in ten consecutive seasons, setting a record that will be hard to beat. The injury-struggling Spaniard made just seven appearances after Wimbledon 2014 and lost momentum ahead of the new season.

Nadal reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open and Indian Wells in 2015, helped by a small ATP title on clay in early March. Andy Murray dethroned Nadal in Madrid, witnessing only Roland Garros’ second loss to Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals.

Rafa barely stayed in the top 10 over the next few months thanks to winning trophies in Stuttgart and Hamburg. Nadal tried his best to find form ahead of the North American hard-court swing but failed. Nadal toppled Sergiy Stakhovsky and Mikhail Youzhny to finish in the last eight in Montreal, meeting 4th seed Kei Nishikori in the battle for the semifinals.

It was their eighth meeting on the Tour and the first win for the Japanese. He edged the Spaniard 6-2, 6-4 in an hour and 23 minutes to reach the last four. Kei’s first serve proved to be the strongest weapon of the day.

He fended off two out of three break chances and increased the pressure on the other side. Rafa sprayed six double faults and didn’t do much behind the initial shot, being broken four times by as many chances offered to Kei and hitting the exit door.

Rafael Nadal lost in straight sets to Kei Nishikori in Canada 2015.

Nishikori landed two great winners in the second game of the encounter to put his name on the scoreboard. He paused a few minutes later to take an early lead and gain momentum.

Kei fired on all cylinders, earning another break in game five and securing the opener with a forehand winner 5-2, hoping for more in set number two. Nadal hit a double fault at 1-1 to suffer a break and lose himself 6-2, 3-1.

Nishikori sped towards the finish line and placed a return winner to earn another break and open a 4-1 gap. He extended the lead in game six before Nadal pulled a break back at 2-5 to stay in contention. Rafa held in the ninth game with a forehand crosscourt winner on 15 to cut the deficit to 5-4 and force the rival to serve for the win a second time.

Kei painted a forehand winner in the next to seal the deal and beat Rafa for the first time in his career. It was Nadal’s first season since 2004 without the Masters 1000 title at the time of the Canada Masters. Despite solid performances in Shanghai and Paris, things didn’t get any better as the season progressed.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.