Rafael Nadal went down in three sets to Borna Coric in the second round of the Cincinnati Masters.
Rafa was pushed to the limit and beyond in what was his first match since an abdominal tear forced him out of Wimbledon.
Croatia’s Coric started strong against the world number three, absorbing Rafa’s best shots and returning them in kind.
Both men saved two set points before the 25-year-old claimed first blood in a lengthy tiebreak.
Rafa then rallied in the second, making the most of his lone break point opportunity to force a deciding third set.
However, he was ultimately unable to keep up with his younger opponent in the third, giving up an early break which Coric rode to a 7-6 (9) 4-6 6-3 victory in Cincinnati.
“Obviously I didn’t play my best match. It’s something that can happen. Historically this tournament has been difficult for me,” the second seed said.
“So coming back from a tough period of time, it’s something that is easy to accept and easy to say congrats to Borna that he played better.”
He later added: “For some weird reason at this tournament I never had the best feelings. On the other hand, I felt very welcome here all the time.”
“A lot of times coming back from injuries I have done positive things, but in this particular case, it’s obvious that I was not ready enough to win the match,” he said.
“You lose. You move forward. I know the way. The main thing for me is to stay healthy. It has been a difficult injury to manage, to be honest. The last month and a half haven’t been easy because having a tear on the abdominal, you don’t know when it is 100%. So that affects a little bit in terms of not sure if you are able to try your best in every serve.”
Source: PA Sports