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Tennis World In Shock As Borna Coric Crashes Rafael Nadal’s Comeback Party At Cincinnati

The 22-time grand slam winner will head into the US Open with very little match practice

Rafael Nadal’s comeback after a six-week injury lay-off ended in a disappointment, as he suffered a shocking second-round exit to Borna Coric 7-6 (9), 4-6, 6-3. With this win, Coric has joined the illustrious list, which comprised Novak Djokovic alone till now, to boast a winning record against Nadal.

“It has been very, very special,” Coric said on his triumph. “I was out for the last two years and I didn’t play on the big stage in front of the crowd and everybody. I was honestly just looking forward to playing this match as I haven’t had that in the last two years. Now that I won, it’s kind of crazy.”

It was undoubtedly the biggest win of the season for The Croat, whose career has always been plagued by injury. Earlier this year in March, Coric returned to the court after a long absence due to a shoulder injury and, had only four wins at the tour level before Wednesday. For Nadal, this was his first appearance in over a month. 

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It was expected to be a slow and rusty duel, but the first set proved otherwise, setting up the tone for almost three hours of a thrilling clash where neither of the players looked to cede an inch. Both Nadal and Coric saved two match points in the first set that eventually ended in the latter’s favour. 

After missing the first set by a whisker, the Spaniard upped his ante, got a massive break in the seventh game, then just held on to his serves to level the game. By the middle of the third set, the weariness was visible on Nadal, who never recovered from losing a break in the sixth game, and succumbed to a 6-3 defeat. 

The 22-time grand slam winner will head into the US Open, which starts in less than two weeks, with very little match practice. “With a week-and-a-half to New York, it’s sad to not play here,” Nadal said. “I need to get into Grand Slam mode. I need to practice. I need to return better. I need days. It’s better to come back when you’ve spent a period of time outside and win your first match.”

Lead Image: Western & Southern Open/Twitter