PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal loses in three sets to Cameron Norrie at United Cup

Rafael Nadal’s preparations for his Australian Open title defence got off to a wobbly start as Cameron Norrie handed him a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 defeat in the United Cup on Saturday to give Britain a 1-0 lead over Spain in the mixed team tournament.

The 22-times Grand Slam champion, who lifted the trophy in Melbourne Park this year and added another French Open title in an otherwise injury-ravaged season, eased through the first set but gifted Norrie a way back into the contest in the next.

It was not a disaster at all. I can do things better, and I need to do it. But as I said, I have not had many matches. I think he played the first match two days ago. I think that’s an advantage, especially if you win the match the way that he did.

And then I need to be a little bit faster physically, a little bit more solid, some fewer mistakes and making better decisions at some point, playing a little bit longer. I think there is a way to improve, but I have time before the Australian Open starts in two weeks.

Rafa Nadal

There was little to separate them in the opening games, with a first break point in game six for Rafa, but Cam saved with a half-volley.

Rafa’s relentless pressure earned him a second and this time the Spanish world number two converted with a searing cross-court forehand before methodically closing out the set in 52 minutes.

But his poor first-serve was an issue and he was broken to go 4-2 behind in the second set. He saved two set points but Cam nailed a third on his serve to level at one set-all.

Rafa fired consecutive double faults to open set three and while he recovered to hold, his serve once more deserted him in the fifth game when he was broken and the 36-year-old couldn’t find a way back.

Sources: Reuters, AFP, ATP Tour


  1. As was said by the announcers Rafa. you played differently the first set and then went back to the old Rafa. Aggressive will be the way this year against those who play that way. You will adjust and recognize what is needed. Go at them. Vamos

  2. Rafa simply must return to his “pre-abdominal tear” serve. He’s likely a bit nervous to do so for fear of maybe it’s not quite perfectly healed yet… it should be by now. Either it’s better or it never will be at this point. But this adjusted “protect the ab” serve has to go the way of the wooden racket…. love you completely, Rafa, but I tells it likes I sees it. Now, on to beating Alex DeMinur (sp). ♥️ Vamos!

  3. Rafa looked fine physically and for me that’s what is important. The tennis will follow with more training…

    Hopefully his 2023 starts on a winning note! I’m glad this match was not in the new year.

  4. So, the serve was a root cause of Rafa’s loss – something that clearly needs to improve. Although he must be disappointed, he seems to be in good spirit out on the bench smiling and supporting his team mates.

    • Rafa’s “new and improved” serve isn’t really getting the job done, unfortunately. I believe it all goes back to the abdominal tear. When you’re in your mid 30s, injuries are unforgiving.

      Maybe take a bit off the first serve and rely on the next shot (preferably a forehand). That play worked wonders for Rafa for about 15 years.

      I still don’t know how to make a new post so I’m replying to this one. Sorry.

      • OK. Replying to my own post. Sad but true.

        Thing about serves is….

        Men’s tennis is all about the serve nowadays. I heard John McEnroe say, “Why not just have one serve instead of two”? I completely agree with him actually. It would get the bores out the game like Isner, Raonic and Kafelnikov (I’ve spelt that wrong, I don’t care)

        Medvedev also would be nowhere near the top 10 were it not for his serve.

        One serve. Every player spin it in or do a kicker or just be bold and blast it. It’s pretty boring when a game goes….. ace, double fault, unreturnable, huge serve then huge forehand, double fault, rare plus 5 shot rally, ace, ace. Reminds me of Greg Rusedski’s play book. Exciting stuff. Ha hem.

        One serve only!

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