[CR5] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. [CR79] Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS)
Doubts took over in the second set after a confident start against a player that had nothing to lose and who was striking the ball cleanly off either side. Kuznetsov had opportunities to take the first set; however, Nadal kept his nose in front and came away with the first set. Nevertheless, I was worried, because I saw too many remnants of the Nadal who is still not quite as confident as he once was. Nadal went down a break in the second and although he fought back to get two consecutive breaks, he just was not giving the impression that he was going to win this match in straight sets. Kuznetsov to his credit kept playing his game, aggressively attacking everything that Nadal sent his way and earned the second set when Nadal failed to hold serve to force a tiebreak.
Confidence is wonderful thing when you are feeling it and Kuznetsov seemed to grow in confidence the longer the match went. Nadal would have to fight his way through his wobbly confidence and/or hope that Kuznetsov lost his and started making a slew of unforced errors. I never count Nadal out until the match is over because he is a very determined person, who fights for every point no matter the score. Would Kuznetsov choke? The third set tested Nadal’s resolve, he broke first but was immediately broken; however, he would break back immediately to take another lead. Would it be enough? Nadal dug deep mentally and found a way to pull out the victory in the end 6-3, 5-7, 6-4. However, he knows that it will be another tough opponent tomorrow, Illya Marchenko. This will be their first meeting, which can sometimes be a tricky match. Nadal is determined to be more successful this season and despite the scrappy start in this tournament, there is every indication that he will.