Rafael Nadal’s summer hard court debut ended in defeat last night at the Cincinnati Masters. Playing some of his best tennis in years, the oft-injured Borna Coric pulled the upset in three sets 7-6(9), 4-6, 6-3.
“It has been very, very special,” Coric said. “I was out for the last two years and I didn’t play on the big stage in front of the crowd and everybody. I was honestly just looking forward to playing this match as I haven’t had that in the last two years. Now that I won, it’s kind of crazy.”
Coric, who is now 3-2 lifetime against Nadal, played an incredible tiebreak in the opening set before Nadal took the second to force a third.
In the decider, Coric was the steadier player, and was able to move Nadal around the court and eventually get the opening.
The match was marred by a near 90-minute rain delay at the end of the second. This was Nadal’s first event of the summer after his ab injury from Wimbledon. He loses a chance at the No. 1 ranking this week. But he was healthy.
“Obviously I didn’t play my best match,” Nadal said after his first Cincinnati match since 2017. “Historically this tournament has been difficult for me. So coming back from a tough period of time, something that’s easy to accept and easy to say congrats to Borna, that he played better.
“The main thing for me is to stay healthy. It has been a difficult injury to manage, to be honest. The last month and a half hasn’t been easy, because having a tear on the abdominal, you don’t know when 100 per cent over the thing, so that affects a little bit in terms of not sure if you are able to try your best in every serve.”
Nick Kyrgios’s hot streak was cooled by Taylor Fritz who dominated with a 6-3, 6-2 over the Australian. Fritz pounded 16 aces and never faced a break point in the swift win.
“It feels great to have [my] game come together today,” said Fritz. “That’s the kind of match I really needed to give me a lot of confidence going into the next match, going to the US Open, a lot of things are clicking for sure.”
Fritz will next face Andrey Rublev today.
American college champion Ben Shelton, son of former pro Bryan Shelton, pulled the upset of the day stunning Casper Ruud with ease 6-3, 6-3.
The attacking lefty lost just eight points total on his serve.
“I was just trying to play my game and execute my game plan,” Shelton said. “I’m finding it an easier time the more I’m in these situations, getting my heart rate down and feeling more calm on the court.”
In a clash of Brits, Cameron Norrie rallied from a set down to beat Andy Murray 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
“I just needed to put a lot of balls in the court,” said Norrie. “At the start of the match nothing was really working for me, I was not really being physical, I was not really executing how I liked.
“Credit to Andy, he came out and was using his slice a lot, coming forward well. He reads the game incredibly, so credit to him and it was not easy towards the end, I managed just to find a way.”
Stefanos Tsitsipas, John Isner, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Jannik Sinner and Denis Shapovalov were also winners.
On Thursday, Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev return. Medevedev meets Shapovalov while Alcaraz gets Marin Cilic.
Sebastian Korda, a late winner over Frances Tiafoe last night, is back on court to face big man John Isner.
THURSDAY CINCINNATI SCHEDULE
Center Court Starts At 11:00 Am
11 Taylor Fritz vs 6 Andrey Rublev
1 Iga Swiatek vs Madison Keys
Not Before 4:00 Pm
R16 (WC) Sebastian Korda vs John Isner
Not Before 7:00 PM
7 Jessica Pegula 10 vs Emma Raducanu
14 Marin Cilic 3 vs Carlos Alcaraz
Grand Stand Starts At 11:00 Am
Petra Kvitova 5 vs Ons Jabeur
Not Before 1:00 Pm
1 Daniil Medvedev vs Denis Shapovalov
Not Before 3:00 Pm
15 Roberto Bautista Agut (PR) vs Borna Coric
Not Before 7:00 Pm
R16 7 Felix Auger-Aliassime 10 vs Jannik Sinner
Not Before 8:30 PM vs
Aryna Sabalenka (WC) vs Shelby Rogers
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