Rafael Nadal’s return from six weeks of absence was undone by Borna Coric, who defeated the Spanish star 7-6 (9), 4-6, 6-3 on Wednesday evening at the Western & Southern Open. While the tennis world was excited for Rafael Nadal’s first tournament back from Wimbledon, that delight for Nadal fans was short-lived, as the Spaniard lost in Cincinnati, Ohio. Rafael Nadal lost his first match at the ATP Cincinnati Masters event on Wednesday, falling to Croatia’s Borna Coric in a second-round US Open qualifying match. Borna Coric upset Rafael Nadal’s comeback after five years away at the ATP and WTA Cincinnati Masters.
Borna Coric cracked 12 aces and spoiled Rafael Nadal’s return in Cincinnati, defeating him the third time he is won in five meetings against the 22-time Grand Slam winner. Rafael Nadal showed no signs of tearing up his abdomen, running vigorously and confidently closing in on the net. Six years ago, Borna Coric crushed an exhausted Nadal 6-3, 6-3, en route to reaching his first Masters 1000 quarterfinal at 19. The 25-year-old Croatian threw down a first-strike forehand that he would have liked but mistimed his shot on a fall into the net, and Rafael Nadal was tied 9-9. Uncharacteristically, Nadal curled his forehand crosscourt wide, giving Coric another set point.
While Nadal had momentum and support from the Cincinnati crowd, 25-year-old Borna Coric of Croatia took over the match in game six of the third and final set, breaking Nadal’s serve and taking the lead, 4-2. Nadal, who won the Western and Southern Open in 2013, broke Coric’s serve and ripped off three straight games and four of the last five points to take the second set, 6-4. It was their first meeting since the 2017 Canadian Open in Montreal, in which Nadal won 6-0, 6-2. This match was spoiled by an almost 90-minute rain delay late in the second. Unfortunately for the 22-time men’s singles champion, this was an abbreviated week. American Ben Shelton upset fifth-seeded Casper Ruud, beating the Norwegian 6-3, 6-3, and world No.1 woman Iga Swiatek defeated Sloane Stevens 6-4, 7-5.
The past month-and-a-half has not been easy because having an abdominal tear, you do not know when you are 100% through something, so it affects it a bit in terms of being uncertain about whether or not you will be able to give every service the best effort. He will be tested to ensure that the injury he claimed still caused him to question throughout his service motion is not severe. “I must exercise,” Nadal said. “I must come back better. I need days. It’s ideal to win your first match and then come back after some time spent outside. To win the game today, I wasn’t ready enough. The main goal is to maintain good health. It’s challenging to treat the injuries. I have to handle it carefully.”