Rafael Nadal made his first appearance since retiring at Wimbledon and suffered an early defeat in Cincinnati last week. Rafa fell in the second round to eventual champion Borna Coric 7-6 4-6 6-3 in two hours and 51 minutes.
The Spaniard missed his opening set chances, suffering a break in the decider to hit the exit door and suffer his earliest defeat in almost six years! Rafa struggled with a wrist injury in the closing stages of 2016, suffering an early loss at the US Open and playing just four more games in the rest of the season.
Nadal lost to Viktor Troicki in the second round of the Shanghai Masters, ending his season to prepare for a stellar run in 2017. That loss to Troicki had been Rafa’s earliest defeat until last week, having never hit an exit door in the first game in almost six years. Borna ended that streak in Ohio.
There were only three break chances in the entire encounter and the rivals clinched a return leg in sets two and three.
Rafael Nadal suffered his earliest loss in almost six years in Cincinnati.
Coric and Nadal served well until game seven when Borna hit a smash winner and earned himself a break chance.
Nadal saved it and held to stay on the positive side. The rain sent them off in game ten and they returned 80 minutes later. The set went all the way down and became an absolute smash hit. Rafa came back from a 4-2 deficit to take three straight points for 5-4.
He earned the first set point at 6-5 but failed to convert it on serve. Borna saved the second set point at 6-7 and created his first set point at 8-7. Nadal saved it with a forced error, denying the second to secure the result at 9-9 and his chances.
Rafa hit an expensive double fault at 9-10 to lose the first set after an hour and 14 minutes! The Spaniard served well in the second set and waited for a chance on the return. It came down to 3-3 and he captured it after Coric’s loose forehand.
Nadal went 5-3 up with a winner at net and finished the set with another at 5-4 to force a decision after two hours and six minutes. Both players served under 50% in the final set and still dropped just 11 points in service games.
Coric produced five comfortable holds and kept the pressure on the other side. The Croatian forced Nadal’s forehand error at 3: 2 to two break chances. Rafa played another loose forehand to get broken and go 4-2 down. Borna served for the win in game nine, holding with a forehand crosscourt to seal the deal and create a massive boost that carried him to the title.