PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal shocked by Lloyd Harris in Washington

(AP) – The good news for Rafael Nadal was that his painful left foot felt much better Thursday at the Citi Open. The bad news? His debut appearance at the tournament ended after two rough outings.

A day after needing three sets and more than three hours to get by at the hard-court tuneup for the U.S. Open, Nadal was eliminated 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 under the lights by 50th-ranked Lloyd Harris of South Africa.

“I need to keep working,” Nadal said.

He is a 20-time Grand Slam champion. Harris has only once made it as far as the third round at a major.

“All the credit to him that he played aggressive,” Nadal said. “He played well. He was brave.”

The 24-year-old Harris is 6-foot-4 with big serves that regularly topped 120 mph and produced 16 aces Thursday.

“His serve,” Nadal said, “was huge.”

Nadal’s, admittedly, was not. That might be a sign of rust, which would be understandable given that the 35-year-old Spaniard hadn’t competed anywhere in nearly two months – not even picking up his racket for about three weeks after a semifinal loss to Novak Djokovic at the French Open.

Nadal skipped Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics and certainly never quite played the way he can during his first trip to the U.S. capital.

Thursday’s match ended when Nadal got broken for the second time, with Harris dropping his racket in disbelief after delivering a lob winner to close the proceedings.

“I played this last game really bad,” said Nadal, who was the top seed. “My serve was not working the proper way.”

This was less of a physical tug-of-war between a pair of heavy hitters than Nadal’s victory over 192nd-ranked Jack Sock on Wednesday, which was decided by a third-set tiebreaker.

About three and a half hours before returning to the main stadium to face Harris, Nadal made his way to tiny Court 5 for a training session.

As fans shouted “Vamos, Rafa!” and snapped photos and video with their phones from the stands at an adjacent court, Nadal didn’t do much running. Instead, he mostly stayed in place while smacking groundstrokes, then practicing volleys, serves and returns for 45 minutes with Emilio Gomez, a 29-year-old from Ecuador who is ranked 165th and lost in the Citi Open’s first round.

Not at all taxing by Nadal’s usual exacting and exhausting standards.

And against Harris, when the points mattered, it took Nadal a bit to get going. It wasn’t really until the second set that he seemed into it, as did the fans, many of whom rose to salute when Nadal broke to lead 3-1 with a forehand passing winner.

But down the stretch in the third set, it was Nadal, surprisingly, who faltered. He now will try to regroup ahead of the U.S. Open, which he missed last year during the pandemic but won the last time he entered, in 2019.

Source: AP

26 comments

  1. Rafa has been teased relentlessly because of one of his social media posts. He took a selfie in front of the White House, he said. BUT, fans were quick to point out that the building was actually the Capitol and not the White House. In true Rafa comedic style he corrected the error by saying “it was a typo.” I AM STILL LAUGHING.

    GOTTA LOVE RAFA

    • Margo,

      I didn’t know there’s a correction until now.😂😂 Rafa is not only one of the greatest of all time! He also has a sense of humor.😉

      Wish him all the best in Toronto.❤️

  2. Typical that the person who served a shock defeat to Rafa should lose in the following round as Harris falls victim to Nishikori.

    It’s good to know that Dominic Thiem is recovering well and I hope he’s back soon. Best wishes to him.

  3. Encouraging words from Rafa, as he said his foot felt better during and after the Harris match than it did in the one before. Rafa was tested in both matches and it can only be a good thing leading into Toronto and the USO.

    All being well physically, it’s up to Rafa to fix the problem of his serve and unforced errors. Even if he doesn’t win Toronto, as long as he plays well and goes deep, it bodes well for the Open. You can do it champ!

    • Perhaps it is an oversimplification, but maybe it is not much more than a lack of self-confidence. The confidence Rafa has in himself now would carry many younger players on to victories, but Rafa Confidence results in a mindset of not losing, ever. Come on champ, find yourself and your winning ways. There is much work left to do and many titles to contend for and win. Vamos Rafa!

  4. Rafa will have to pace himself in the next tournament, but these big hitting guys (Harris/Zverev) are proving they can take out the biggies in defeating Rafa and Djokovic. Its a much difficult scenario at the USO in terms of handling the pressures of a major (best of 5) – I have a feeling we’ll see these guys play a rematch there and the results will be much different!

  5. Loved Rafa’s attitude after losing. Disappointed he could not play for the DC fans while giving credit to Harris for playing well. I see nothing wrong with the loss as long as Rafa uses it to prepare for the US Open. I know he will. Does need to serve better . . . but he will be working on it. That’s a guarantee. I’m also going to the tournament in Cincy, so the loss means I will probably for sure see him playing there. What a treat that will be.

    • Honestly I feel like DC was such a great torment for Rafa. Just look at all the love & appreciation DC fans had for him! Although he lost to Harris he treated the DC fans to some vintage Rafa and they loved every minute Rafa was there! With all the horrible things happening in the world, we have Rafa a brite light who makes this world a better place!

  6. Get ready for the next tournament vamosssssss champ we are with you all the way 👍💪🎾🇺🇸

  7. Rafa, thank you for the memorable experience at the Citi Open!🙏 Take care, all the best always!❤️

  8. Maybe for the best. I think if he had played deep here and then played deep into the Rogers cup, his injury could worsen.
    Now time to balance practice and recovery and focus on defending the Rogers cup and then USO. Ice the foot and rest well, ull be 100% soon.
    Several top players are quitting Rogers cup so good chance. If he gets the Rogers cup, hes surely not going playing Cinci back to back.
    Enough time to reach peak form till the USO and its a very good chance.
    Later hope to see a WTF coming this year as well.
    Hes still got some good time. Federer had a golden year at 35 winning Oz, Wimby and then defending Oz.
    Hope Rafa gets a similar one too.

  9. I’m disappointed at Rafa’s defeat, but not devastated. Looking at the stats, the loss to Harris was avoidable, even with the injury, but Rafa’s first serve percentage serve wasn’t good enough to provide him with a cushion. How much of it was down to his injury? Well, in the final analysis, only Rafa can tell us.

    The priority now, is for Rafa’s foot to heel. Unfortunately, a drop in ranking comes with the territory and Rafa knows the score. If he drops down to no.4, then it’s pot luck as to whether he’s drawn in the top or bottom half for the USO. I just hope and pray that he can recover in time and is up for the fight.

  10. So starting Monday, he is dropping out of the top 3? Wondering how that will affect his mindset going into the next tournament 🤔

  11. I am disappointed as we all are . I do not think Rafa’s foot or age was a factor . But more match play is definitely needed .Rafa tried his best to win points by going after Harris’s backhand with high looping big bouncing forehands . I am sure that Rafa was surprised that Harris was able to return the majority of those shots with pace and with deep returns and still cover the court preventing Rafa from getting open court shots to Harris’s forehand . I was definently perplexed that Rafa was not winning enough of these points in the battle of groundstrokes . Also,there was few chances for Rafa to get to the net as Harris played very well from the baseline . Harris displayed a powerful serve and a blistering forehand. Rafa needed to serve better as his second serve was somewhat very returnable and not hitting the usual spots . Lets take this loss as reminder that Rafa must practice more and be match ready by not taking too much time away from competitive match play . I would love for Rafa to avenge this loss and to also avenge the loss to Djokovic at Rolsnd Garros . All this is possible if Rafa stays healthy and stays the course . Vamos always!

  12. I have heard that both the Toronto Open and Cincinnati tournament has announced that Roger Federer has withdrawn sighting lingering issues due to his last surgery on his knee…. No word from US OPEN as we know a grand slam is the goal of all the players to attend…

    “Lingering issues” a statement that can apply to Rafa as well… Rogers knees…. Rafa’s foot….
    You guys better both be there in New York… Healthy and ready!!!

    Rafa…. I’ve seen that bewildered look on his face when he has lost a match in the past…. There’s no question Harris has a strong serve and and can go toe to toe with the best of them when he’s playing well… On Tennis Channel they reported that Harris qualified for Dubai and for the first time in history there…a qualifier made it to the finals…. Harris beat Thiem…Shapovalov….and Nishikori while in Dubai…. Now, he’s beaten Rafa…. Ewww…. I have to keep an eye on this guy…..

    Let’s hope with every day that passes Rafa’s foot gets better and better and Rafa gets some solid practice in as the Toronto Open is not far off ….

    VAMOS RAFA!!!

  13. Everyone loves Rafa and wants him to win every match!! He fought hard against Harris with his big serve and his uncanny ability to hit every line. I think with a little rest, we will see our Champion win and win big in Toronto and Cincy. Nobody is as fun to watch as Rafa!! VAMOS MY CHAMPION!!

  14. Nadal lacks match practice. He is still struggling with his serve needs too much a second serve. Harrison played a great match. I am suprised that no journalist is questioning rafa about the problems he is having with his serve.

    Lets hope that toronto and cincinnati will go better and lets hope that his foot will be less of a problem.

    I am getting hammered on another website where people are telling I should accept the fact that the era of nadal and federer is over and that djokovic is the greatest player of all time. I am telling them dat rafa time is not over. I hope I am not wrong.

  15. Not long ago, in 2020 November, Rafa destroyed Novak to win the French Open. Novak was inspired to repay Rafa in 2021 French Open. Rafa is not far removed (only 8 months) from top form. Keep positive, it is what all Rafa fans must do now!

  16. You can only do your best on the day you say your not at your best yet look forward to seeing you soon in Toronto vamos rafa

  17. Rafa no matter what, you always do your best. The serve let you down and you faced a mighty powerful serve from Lloyd. Onwards and upwards. Your injury didn’t help the night before which was a gruelling game and as you had no real recovery time, its very understandable. Just rest and get better. A Champion as you are, needs play/practise every day and you’ve missed out on so much this yr. We all love and want what’s best for you my Champion. Vamos….☘☘

  18. Rafa had a tight match the night before after a long lay off and faced a big server. His foot definitely hampered his movement and serve. He made no excuses, as ever realistic and honest.
    Now to get a little recovery time and get that foot injury cleared. Let’s all stay positive and send waves of good vibes to our great champion.
    The Washington spectators took Rafa to their hearts and gave him such great support and love. That’s Rafa, a huge favourite wherever he goes.
    Sad for Rafa but knowing him, if his foot revivers he’ll rebound. All support to a great champion. 🇪🇸👏

  19. I feel a bit morose about things at the moment – I do appreciate that Rafa and Roger aren’t going to play on for ever, but it’s very sad to see both of them struggling with injuries. Hoping that the foot problem improves and that Rafa’s OK for Toronto and Cincy, and of course for New York.

  20. So tough to play when hampered by an injury which you do not want to aggravate. Good luck in your
    recovery. No doubt you and your team know exactly what adjustments must be made for the US Open. What a warrior; how fiercely you fought to win in 2019👺see you in NY-healthy and confident-👏💪👍🤛🍀🎾❤️

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