Not on the pace and often overtaken in exchanges, Rafael Nadal did not send the best signals twelve days before the US Open, eliminated as soon as he entered the Masters 1000 in Cincinnati on Wednesday by the 152nd player in the world, Borna Coric.
It's the big surprise of the day, which came very late at night, which even the interruption by the rain for 1h20 could not prevent.
And this even if the Spaniard, 3rd in the world, made his return to Ohio after six weeks of absence.
He had not played since July 6 due to an abdominal tear, which then forced him to forfeit before his semi-final at Wimbledon.
“We cannot expect to play at an incredible level immediately”
, he had warned a few days ago.
The facts proved him right, even if we could expect him to pass this 2nd round without incident, against a poorly ranked opponent, who is looking to revive after a shoulder operation.
“Rafa” finally lost, not without a struggle, 7-6 (11/9) 4-6, 6-3 after almost three hours.
And his level appeared far from that displayed during the first half, when he won the Australian Open and Roland-Garros.
“He played better.
But it's hard to take a lot of positive things out of this game.
I have to train, I have to go back better, that's the truth
, ”he agreed, without hiding his disappointment.
Nadal played 'very badly'
On the hard surface of Cincinnati, where he won in 2013, the 36-year-old Mallorcan has often been in tow, a rare thing, in the exchanges (38 winning shots for Coric, against 22).
He also made big mistakes at the worst times, like this forehand that was too uncrossed, which spoiled a set point in the tie-break, and this double fault which then offered the first set to rival.
Returning to a set everywhere, Nadal did not have this second wind which usually pushes him to force decisions.
Unlike the Croatian, who broke to lead 4-2, without ever being worried about his serve.
“I had chances in the tiebreak and I played very badly.
When you come back from injury, if you win the first game, things get better.
, he summarized.
Only positive point, he did not complain about the abdomen, nor about his left foot, he who has to deal with recurring pain due to necrosis of the scaphoid bone.
Earlier, Hubert Hurkacz, finalist last Sunday in Montreal, and Nick Kyrgios, who appeared physically borrowed, were also stopped in the second round.
The Pole (10th) was defeated 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (5/7), 6-2 by American John Isner (50th).
Ditto for the Australian, swept 6-3, 6-2 in just 51 minutes by the American Taylor Fritz (13th), who will face the Russian Andrey Rublev (8th).
Euphoric since his final at Wimbledon, then his title gleaned in Washington two weeks ago, Kyrgios seemed to suffer from back and left knee, paying an unusual excess of matches for him this summer.
For his part, Stéfanos Tsitsipás (7th) had no trouble reaching the round of 16, dismissing Serbian Filip Krajinovic (46th) 6-3, 6-4.
No more than the Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime (9th) winner 6-3, 6-2 of the Australian Alex De Minaur (20th).
Cameron Norrie (11th), recent finalist in Los Cabos, overthrew 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 Andy Murray (47th), who ended with cramps.
He will be opposed to the American Ben Shelton (229th), who surprised 6-3, 6-3 the Norwegian Casper Ruud (5th).
Among the women, the world No.1 Iga Swiatek made a successful entry into the running, winning 6-4, 7-5 against the American Sloan Stephens (57th).
A reassuring victory for the Pole who appeared in difficulty this summer after an irresistible spring, marked by 37 victories in a row.
Emma Raducanu (13th), like the day before against Serena Williams, was merciless for Belarusian Victoria Azarenka (22nd), winner in 2013 and 2020 of the event, swept away 6-0, 6-2.
The 19-year-old Briton, who will defend her title at the US Open, will face in the round of 16 the American Jessica Pegula (7th), finalist in Toronto last Sunday.