Nadal slumps to second-straight defeat in United Cup
World number two Rafael Nadal slumped to a second-straight defeat at the United Cup Monday in a setback to his Australian Open preparations, but Stefanos Tsitsipas and Iga Swiatek were both on song.
There was also more misery for former world number two Alexander Zverev, who, like Nadal, suffered a second loss to start his season, this time at the hands of Taylor Fritz.
Spanish 22-time Grand Slam winner Nadal surprisingly crashed in his season-opening match on Saturday to 14th-ranked Cameron Norrie.
And he again succumbed after winning the first set, going down 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 to Australia’s 24th-ranked Alex De Minaur in Sydney, including losing six games in a row in the second set.
“Honestly, I couldn’t be happier that I managed to get my first win over Rafa on this court, it’s no secret this is my favourite court in the world,” said De Minaur.
“Rafa is a hell of a competitor and what he has been able to do for this sport is truly astounding so I’m just honoured. It’s a dream come true.”
It went with serve to 2-2 in the first set, but Nadal played some loose shots and a double fault handed De Minaur a break point, then he sent a forehand long to go 2-3 behind.
But the Australian couldn’t sustain the pressure and Nadal broke straight back.
After a slow start, the Spaniard found his groove and in a devastating burst won the next three games to take the set.
De Minaur appeared deflated and was broken again on his first serve of the second set, but he flicked a switch to reel off six games in a row to leave Nadal stunned.
They exchanged breaks in the third set before a string of unforced errors from Nadal allowed De Minaur to break again for 6-5 and serve out for the win.
The mixed-team tournament features 18 countries playing in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.
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