Nadal Avenges Laver Cup Loss To Isner

Nadal avenges lavercup loss to Isner

China Open, Beijing

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. [17] John Isner (USA)

Despite leading their head-to-head 6:0, Nadal knew from bitter experience that Isner is a dangerous opponent. In their recent meeting at the inaugural Laver Cup event  held in Prague last month, Isner defeated the number him 7-5, 7-6(1).  While it does not count in their head to head, both players were very aware of the significance of the result of that match.

Would Isner be able to duplicate his performance to defeat Nadal? The Spaniard started off tentatively and Isner had an opportunity to secure an early break; however, Nadal had his “determination hat” on and he refused to relinquish any games to the American.  Isner had more break point opportunities in the second set; however, once again he was denied by some brilliant play from the Spaniard.

As expected in matches that involve Isner, there was a tiebreak and most people perhaps thought that this was his opportunity to extend the match. Memories of the blowout tiebreak loss still fresh in Nadal’s mind spurred him on to avoid a similar result; there was no uncertainty, he was focused on what had to be done and he executed it to perfection.  In fact it was Isner who got tentative on his serve, missing his placement and not hitting with the pace he had served with all match.

How did Isner lose the tiebreak without winning one point? Nadal kept him off-balance and spread the court forcing the tall American to move from side to side, which exposed his poor mobility. In the end it was a straight set victory for Nadal 6-4, 7-6(0); however, it does not get any easier for the number one seed as he faces Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinals.


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