The 20-time Major champion Rafael Nadal did not enjoy his Citi Open debut, losing to Lloyd Harris on Thursday night in the third round. Rafa came to Washington with a foot injury experienced in the Roland Garros semi-final versus Novak Djokovic. In July, the Spaniard stayed away from the court for three weeks and returned to the practice court, planning to compete in Washington ahead of two Masters 1000 events in Toronto and Cincinnati. In his first match in over a month and a half, Nadal stayed on the court for over three hours against Jack Sock in a 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 victory. Rafa got broken in the second set and again at the beginning of the third, working hard to overcome the deficit and emerge in the deciding tie break. After the match, Nadal said that his foot was still hurting, although he hoped to play in the next round against Lloyd Harris.
Rafael Nadal lost to Lloyd Harris in the Washington third round.
The South African played one of his career-best encounters to oust Rafa 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 in two hours and ten minutes, breaking the Spaniard once in sets he won to advance into the quarters. Nadal had more winners than unforced errors, but it wasn’t enough to carry him home despite a high performance in set number two. The Spaniard stated that his foot felt better than against Sock and that he did not play well in the crucial moments, especially on the return in the final set. Rafa should now travel to Toronto and enter the Canada Masters, one of his favorite hard-court events in the calendar.
“The most positive thing is that my foot was better today than yesterday, so that’s the best news. I played against the rival who played well. For the moment, I think I played better than yesterday, but, yeah, I did not play well after creating opportunities in the decider due to his massive serve, and that last service game was terrible. That’s the sport. You can not make mistakes in the key moments, and I was more nervous at 4-5. My serve was not working the proper way, and that’s it. Well done to Lloyd; it’s a great win for him, and I wish him all the very best,” Rafael Nadal said.