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