Rafael Nadal dropped out from the top-2 in May last year. The Spaniard had a chance to return to that group last week, standing close to Alexander Zverev and hoping for a good result in Cincinnati. Instead, Rafa experienced an early loss and failed to pass the German.
Zverev is 130 points ahead of Nadal on the latest ATP ranking list, keeping his position in the top-2 despite not playing for over two months! Competing for the first time since withdrawing at Wimbledon, Rafa experienced a 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 loss to Borna Coric in the Cincinnati second round.
Borna prevailed after two hours and 51 minutes following a fine display to remain on the title course and took important points away from Rafa in the year-end no. 1 battle. Nadal remains the leader of the ATP Race after two Major titles in 2022, having a nice chance to become world no.
1 again after the US Open. Rafa and Borna played a tight match with three break chances. Both rivals converted one in sets two and three, and the Croat prevailed with a lone break in the decider.
Rafael Nadal remains world no.3 behind Alexander Zverev.
The match started with six comfortable holds, reaching 3-3 in 24 minutes. Borna attacked on the return in game seven and hit a smash winner at the net to create a break chance, the only of the set.
Nadal denied it and brought the game home to remain on the positive side. The rain sent them off the court in the tenth game, and they returned 80 minutes later. The set reached a tie break and turned into an absolute cracker.
Rafa came back from 4-2 down and claimed three straight points for 5-4. The Spaniard earned the first set point at 6-5 but failed to convert it on his 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 and denied the second to lock the result at 9-9. Rafa hit a double fault at 9-10 to lose the opener after an hour and 14 minutes! The Spaniard served well in the second set and awaited an opportunity on the return.
It came in game seven, and he seized it after Coric’s loose forehand. Nadal moved 5-3 up with a winner at the net and closed the set with another in game ten to force a decider after two hours and six minutes. Both players served under 50% in the final set and still lost only 11 points in service games.
Coric produced five comfortable holds and kept the pressure on the other side. The Croat forced Nadal’s forehand mistake in game six for two break chances. Rafa played another wayward forehand to get broken and fall 4-2 behind.
Borna served for the victory in game nine and held with a forehand crosscourt forehand to seal the deal and earn a notable triumph.