After a busy 23 hours of on court time Rio, Rafael Nadal finally ran out of gas today at the Cincinnati Masters, falling to 19-year-old Borna Coric 6-1, 6-3.
“He started the match very well, and I thought it was going to be very different,” Coric said. “But that’s tennis. One day you’re going to play well, one day you’re not going to play well.”
Coric had no trouble at all with Nadal who misfired 29 unforced errors as Coric dominated breaking out to a 6-1, 4-0 lead before Rafa came back to make it respectable.
Late in the second, Nadal had to get treatment on his elbow and wrist area, but retiring was never an option.
“Too tired,” Nadal said. “Elbow, shoulder. Two and a half months without competing and especially without practicing, and to do what I did in the Olympics and come here. Too much.
“He didn’t give me many chances. He was playing his serve huge,” he added. “I need to be in better shape to compete.”
Coric, who picks up his second career win over Rafa, moves into his first Masters quarterfinal and in doing so becomes the first teen to reach this stage at a Masters since 2008 Cincinnati when 19-year-old Gulbis made it that far.
Coric will meet his countryman and Davis Cup teammate Marin Cilic who lost just three points on his first serve to beat Tomas Berdych 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. The subplot of the match was the fact that Cilic’s ex coach Goran Ivanisevic made his debut in the Berdych coaching camp!
Staying in the bottom half, Grigor Dimitrov continued his mastery on Stan Wawrinka winning his fourth straight over the Swiss 6-4, 6-4.
“I need matches like that,” said Dimitrov. “I need 10 or 12 more of those matches to sustain that level and also to send a statement not only for me, but towards everyone. I’m here to play and here to compete.”
Dimitrov will be out for revenge against Steve Johnson who beat the Bulgarian at Wimbledon. Johnson saved two set points in the second to upset Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 7-6(6). The win put Johnson into his first career Masters quarterfinal and he will also replace John Isner as the No. 1 ranked American on Monday.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet. I just found out, so it’s an honour,” Johnson said. “John has held that spot for a while (July 2013), and I’m just glad that there are a bunch of Americans pushing towards the top.”
Due to a back injury, Gael Monfils gave Dominic Thiem a walkover. After his day off, Thiem will face Milos Raonic who bested Yuichi Sugita 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.
Bernard Tomic also scored an upset knocking out bronze medalist Kei Nishikori 7-6(1), 7-6(5). Andy Murray will be next for the Australian who has never won a set in five meetings with the World No. 2.
“He had a good win today against Nishikori,” Murray said. “He’s a talented player. We’ve had some tough matches. He plays with a lot of variety.”
After about an 80-minute rain delay, Murray, battling a head cold he picked up in Rio, overcame an early break and some sluggishness with his shoulder to beat Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-2 and avenge his US Open loss to the South African.
“Kevin has had some tough injuries to deal with this year and is starting to sort of gradually get back to the level he was playing at last year. It takes time,” Murray said. “For me, I’m coming off the best few months of my career, so it’s slightly different circumstances.”
Murray has now won 20 straight matches and this win marked the 600th of his career.
FRIDAY CINCINNATI SCHEDULE
CENTER COURT start 11:00 am
ATP – S. Johnson (USA) vs G. Dimitrov (BUL)
Not Before 1:00 pm
WTA –  C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) vs  A. Kerber (GER)
ATP –  M. Cilic (CRO) vs B. Coric (CRO)
Not Before 7:00 pm
WTA –  A. Radwanska (POL) or  J. Konta (GBR) vs  S. Halep (ROU)
Not Before 8:30 pm
ATP –  A. Murray (GBR) vs B. Tomic (AUS)
GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
WTA –  K. Pliskova (CZE) vs  S. Kuznetsova (RUS)
Not Before 1:00 pm
ATP –  M. Raonic (CAN) vs  D. Thiem (AUT)
Not Before 2:30 pm
WTA –  G. Muguruza (ESP) or  A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs [Q] T. Babos (HUN)
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