Top seeded Rafael Nadal, who made his Citi Open debut, defeated American wildcard Jack Sock in a breathtaking, dramatic three-set win 6th-2, 4th-6, 7th-6(1) in three hours and four minutes.
It was an emotional victory for the Spaniard, which once again underscores that he is one of the greatest competitors in any sport.
In the first set there were spectacular shots from Sock, especially on the forehand side, which has as much topspin as Nadal’s forehand, but Nadal broke 3-2 with his own forehand, a great pass crosscourt for a winner.
Nadal serves with 4th-2 felt like another big game. Rafa led 30th-fifteen and beat an ace wide for 40-fifteen. But Sock brought the game back to the deuce. Then Rafa closed the net and finished the point with a fantastic forehand volley. Desperate, Sock threw his bat in the direction of the ball and let it out of his hand so far that the bat bounced across the field.
At the ad-in, Nadal only hit a second serve outside of the rhythm 86 mph, and Sock offset the return. Rafa, now up 5-2, broke down in the next game 30thto take the set.
In the second set, Nadal served first and stopped with his favorite shot: a wild, spin-heavy inside-out forehand. Sock held the next game with a devastating forehand and a fantastic serve over the T.
They stayed on the serve until 3-all, and with the help of a double fault from Nadal and a massive forehand down-the-line winner from Sock, the American broke out. With three other massive forehand winners, Sock held on fifteen Per 5-3.
In Nadal’s next service game, Sock had two breakpoints but was unable to convert. In his next service game, at his third target, Sock held 30th. At some point it flashed on the video screen that it was a match point, which seemed to cause fear in the predominantly pro-Nadal crowd. But don’t worry, we went to a third one.
In the third set, Sock broke in the first game and remained stable 3-1 lead. Nadal stayed gravelly as always and broke for 3-Everyone. They stayed on the serve. at 5-Everything, kept Nadal in love. at 5-6, Sock held on to love.
You could see that Nadal was struggling physically, limping a bit. He struggled with a foot injury after the sand season and appeared to be suffering from it again.
But in the tiebreaker, Nadal played magical tennis. His first five points were outstanding and he was leading 5-Love. The crowd went wild. Rafa only lost one point when he won the buster 7th-1.
After the game, Nadal said in his press conference: “Well it was a nice night in terms of energy, the crowd was amazing. Yes, the city’s support since I arrived here is one of the greatest I’ve had in my career, isn’t it? Yes super happy to visit Washington and play here for the first time.
“The game wasn’t easy. I think I started more or less well with the first movement. Then I played a bad game in the second. It’s true when the game came my foot came too. I started to suffer a little too much.
“Then Jack played some great points. I couldn’t harm him with my shots, and I couldn’t get back to the points if he had the initiative, right? Was tough.
“But I played the match better. This is important. I hope to be ready for tomorrow. “
Nadal added: “I think my serve could be better. The percentage was too low for moments. Then you open the door to a player like him. Of course, like I said, no, Jack isn’t easy to play, but at the same time he is causing damage. But it also has some flaws, right?
“It’s important to stay solid. It’s important to let him play from difficult positions. I think it’s something I haven’t done for too long while playing, right?
“In the end, I was able to do it all over again. I could do it in the last part of the first sentence. So something that I know will not be easy after a few months when I come back from a difficult situation with my foot a few months without playing.
“But here I am. I fought. I can play again tomorrow, that’s great news. “
Next up for Nadal Lloyd Harris, the 14thSeeds, from South Africa.