Rafael Nadal is working hard to recover from an abdominal injury ahead of his comeback in Montreal next week. A year ago, Rafa struggled with a leg injury and played just two games after Washington. Nadal injured his leg against Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of Roland Garros and missed both Wimbledon and the Olympics.
The Spaniard started training again in July and surprised everyone after winning the ATP 500 Washington wild card. Rafa made his debut in the US capital and enjoyed a great few days exploring the city, receiving positive vibes from the crowd and feeling their support.
Rafa made his debut in the second round against Jack Sock and tested his leg to the max. The Spaniard prevailed in the decisive tie break set and spent over three hours on the court. Nadal took the court against Lloyd Harris in the third round and suffered a 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 defeat in two hours and ten minutes.
The Spaniard didn’t play badly, but it wasn’t enough after losing ground at key moments. Harris had 16 aces and saved four of six break chances. Nadal played against three break opportunities and had one broken service game in sets one and three to end his run early.
Rafa had 26 winners and 11 unforced errors. By comparison, Lloyd tallied 38 winners and 21 errors, playing aggressive tennis and doing everything right when it mattered most. The South African broke Nadal at 15 in the opening game seven and staved off a break chance with a crosscourt forehand winner in the 10th game to claim 6-4.
Rafael Nadal enjoyed himself in Washington last year.
Starting from the start, Nadal raised his level in set number two and grabbed breaks in games four and six to go 6-1 up and take the momentum. Lloyd saved two break chances early in the final set and another at 2-2 with a strong serve.
The South African came back from 5-4 down and placed a perfect lob to steal Nadal’s serve and seal the deal to celebrate the most remarkable victory of his career. “The atmosphere was fantastic, right from the start.
I can’t thank everyone here in Washington enough. Honestly, the support and energy level was tremendous. I try to do things the best I can. If it inspires kids to pick up a racket, I’m happy.
We need kids to play tennis as much as possible, so if my coming to Washington helped add one little kid to the world of tennis, I’m proud. I hope that tennis will remain at the highest level in popularity and gather many people around the world.
My first trip to Washington was excellent. People are very passionate about our sport. The most painful thing is that I can’t step on the court again tomorrow in front of this incredible crowd. Getting to know a new city was a great experience for me. I enjoyed it and I will remember the support and love of the people,” said Rafael Nadal.