The 20-time Major champion Rafael Nadal will not play in the quarter-final in his debut at the Citi Open in Washington, losing to Lloyd Harris 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 after two hours and ten minutes. Still struggling with a foot injury from the Roland Garros semi-final loss against Novak Djokovic, Nadal came to Washington to seek form and matches ahead of Toronto. Nonetheless, he is still far from his best, struggling against Jack Sock on Wednesday and losing to South African on Thursday night. Thanks to that second set, Rafa won four points more than Lloyd but failed to keep the same pace in the decider after getting broken at 4-5. Harris had 16 aces and saved four out of six break chances. On the other hand, Nadal played against three break opportunities and experienced one loose service game in sets one and three to end his run in the third round and remain on two ATP titles in 2021.
Rafael Nadal lost to Lloyd Harris in Washington in three sets.
Rafa had 26 winners and 11 unforced errors, while his rival counted to 38 winners and 21 mistakes, playing aggressive tennis and doing everything right in the closing stages. The South African made a strong start and had the upper hand with his serve and forehand while seeking his chance on the return patiently. It came in game seven when he broke Rafa at 15 when the Spaniard netted a forehand, building the advantage and cementing it with a hold at 15 thanks to yet another service winner. Serving for the set at 5-4, Harris fended off a break chance with a forehand crosscourt winner and landed another down the line for 6-4 after 38 minutes.
Starting all over, Nadal raised his level in set number two, serving well and challenging Harris to repeat that. The South African played two consecutive loose service games and had to seek victory in the decider. Rafa broke him in game four with a forehand down the line winner and repeated that two games later for a 5-1 lead. Serving for the set, world no. 3 held at 30 with an ace to send the encounter into a decider. In the pivotal moment of the match, Lloyd saved two break chances at the beginning of the final set and another at 2-2 with a powerful serve. Returning at 5-4, the South African placed a perfect lob winner to steal the rival’s serve and seal the deal to celebrate the most notable victory in a career.