The Spaniards Rafa Nadal, Paula Badosa and Garbiñe Muguruza fell this Wednesday in their premieres at the Cincinnati tournament, in a negative day for Spanish tennis, which clings to Carlos Alcaraz and Roberto Bautista.
Nadal returned to competition after the abdominal injury suffered at Wimbledon and, in his first match on hard surfaces since last March, fell 7-6(9), 4-6, 6-3 to Croatian Borna Coric.
Nadal did not lack commitment or desire to fight, but his problem with his abs continues to condition his game and prevent him from competing with complete serenity.
“Obviously I didn’t play my best game. It’s something that can happen, historically this tournament is difficult for me. I was coming back after a difficult period. But this is something easy to accept, it’s easy to say ‘congratulations to Borna’, it was just better.” Nadal said at the post-match press conference at the Lindner Family Tennis Center.
“It’s difficult to analyze the game. When you have a scar, the line is very small. When the scar doesn’t have much flexibility, you have to be careful at all times. I’ll probably do some tests to make sure everything is fine. But I trained a lot better than how I played today. Nothing happens,” he added.
Coric stood in the round of 16 and met Roberto Bautista, who beat the American Marcos Giron by a double 6-3 to prolong his journey on the Cincinnati cement.
The man from Castellón, champion in Kitzbuhel and Doha this year, is one of the two Spaniards still at stake in Cincinnati.
The other is Carlos Alcaraz, who made his debut on Tuesday with a solid victory against the American Mackenzie McDonald and who will play the round of 16 this Thursday against the Croatian Marin Cilic.
Alcaraz jumped to train at 12 locals on a secondary track of the Cincinnati club, where more than a hundred fans were already waiting for him.
Guided by his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero, number 4 in the world ranking, winner of two Masters 1,000 this year, in Miami and Madrid, he worked hard on one of the keys to his match with Cilic, his ability to respond to the powerful serves of the Croatian.
At the end of training, Alcaraz stayed for more than ten minutes signing autographs and giving photos and also gave his racket to a child.
In the women’s circuit, Paula Badosa fell to the Australian Ajla Tomljanovic 6-7(3), 6-0, 6-2, in a match that ended after 1:20 local time due to a rain delay.
The Spaniard lost her second consecutive first-round match, after Toronto, in which she withdrew due to injury against Kazakh Yulia Putintseva.
Neither could Garbiñe win, who surrendered 6-3 and 6-1 to the Kazakh Elena Rybakina, current champion of the Wimbledon tournament.
The Polish Iga Swiatek, number one in the WTA ranking, defeated the American Sloane Stephens 6-4 and 7-5 and added her 50th victory in an extraordinary season, in which she has already won six titles.
Swiatek left behind the early elimination suffered in Toronto, the work of the Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia, and triumphed over Stephens to stand in the round of 16, in which she will face the American Madison Keys.
The Pole, who faces a tournament as the first favorite for the eighth time, is fighting this week for her seventh title of the year, numbers that have not been recorded since 2014, with the American Serena Williams as the protagonist.
The tournament lost Romania’s Simona Halep, who withdrew due to injury before facing Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova.
In the men’s circuit, the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas made his debut with a solid 6-3 and 6-4 against the Serbian Filip Krajnovic and will play the round of 16 with the Argentine Diego Schwartzman.
The Australian Nick Kyrgios, recent champion in Washington, who was beaten with an authoritarian 6-3 and 6-2 by the American Taylor Fritz, champion this year in Indian Wells, said goodbye.
Canadian Denis Shapovalov advanced, coming back from 1-4 in the second set and beating American Tommy Paul 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, to meet Russian Daniil Medvedev in the round of 16.