Rafael Nadal’s return from an abdominal injury was cut short in Cincinnati on Wednesday night, as he fell to comeback kid Borna Coric in his first match back, 7-6 (9), 4-6, 6-3.
Coric is currently ranked No. 152 after missing a whole year between last March and this March with a shoulder injury, but he’s a former No. 12 and has been a thorn in Nadal’s side—this was his third win in five career meetings with the 22-time Grand Slam champion.
Things were neck and neck from the start between the two, with neither player budging on serve throughout the first set—before and after coming back from a rain delay with Nadal up 5-4—and there was little between them in the tie-break, too, with Nadal actually bringing up two sets points at 6-5 and 7-6 but Coric ultimately sneaking out the set.
After six more holds to start the second set Nadal cracked the match open again with a break for 4-3, and the two held from there until the they were headed to a third set—but Coric broke for 4-2 in the decider and held until it was all over, finishing it off in style after two hours and 51 minutes with a huge inside-out forehand winner.
CORIC’S WINS OVER TOP 5 PLAYERS (10): d. No. 3 Nadal in 2014 Basel QFs d. No. 3 Murray in 2015 Dubai QFs d. No. 5 Nadal in 2016 Cincinnati 3rd Rd d. No. 1 Murray in 2017 Madrid 3rd Rd d. No. 3 Zverev in 2018 Halle 1st Rd d. No. 1 Federer in 2018 Halle F d. No. 4 Del Potro in 2018 Shanghai 3rd Rd d. No. 2 Federer in 2018 Shanghai SFs d. No. 4 Thiem in 2020 ATP Cup RR d. No. 3 Nadal in 2022 Cincinnati 2nd Rd
source: Tennis Magazine