Nadal Falls To Lopez In Spanish Duel
Feliciano Lopez claims back-to-back wins over Rafael Nadal for first time
Feliciano Lopez has spoiled any chance of a Rafael Nadal v Roger Federer quarter-final showdown after upstaging his compatriot and No. 8 seed 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(3) at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday.
In the clash between the two lefties in Cincinnati, Lopez beat his more decorated countryman, Nadal, for just the fourth time in 13 meetings to reach his fifth quarter-final of the season. It was the first time the 33-year-old had claimed back-to-back victories over the former World No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings after triumphing in their previous meeting on hard court in Shanghai last year.
“It means a lot when you beat such a good player like him,” Lopez said. “It's not a normal match. It's something different and the atmosphere there when you play against Rafa, it's always something special ... I think he's playing better, getting better and better. He played good today. I mean I was playing really my best today. Doesn't matter the way he played because I was playing so good today.”
Nadal brought up triple set point in the opening set with Lopez serving at 4-5 but could not convert. A double fault at 5-6 from Lopez again handed his compatriot triple set point and Nadal would take it on his sixth opportunity when Lopez dumped a forehand into the net after 52 minutes.
Lopez had not dropped a set in victories over No. 9 seed Milos Raonic and Andreas Seppi to reach the third round and he started the stronger of the two in set No. 2. He broke early and sustained the advantage to bring up three set points on serve at 5-4. He leveled the match when Nadal rifled a forehand long.
Neither player waivered on serve in the deciding set. Lopez opened the tie-break, scrambling to reach a drop shot to thread the backhand winner down the line. Nadal responded with a backhand pass of his own but from there it was all Lopez.
The World No. 23 surged to 5-2 with his 13th ace and brought up three match points with an overhead winner. He sealed the result with ace No. 14 to defeat the 2013 Cincinnati champion, finishing the match with 43 winners to Nadal’s 27.
“I was there during the whole match with the right intensity, with the right attitude, doing the things that I have to do, trying to be more aggressive, trying to go to the net more often,” Nadal said. “That's what I did. But today I played against an opponent that he played a fantastic match, I think. He played the best match ever against me, without a doubt … For me it's a tough loss because I was playing better and my feelings on court were better than they were before.”
At the completion of the match, Lopez signed “marriage works” on the camera lens after tying the knot with Alba Carrillo in July back in his hometown of Toledo. He will face No. 2 seed Federer in the quarter-finals after the Swiss later beat No. 15 seed Kevin Anderson in straight sets. Should he upset Federer, he would have good reason to write those same two words on the camera lens again. He has never beaten Federer in 11 previous attempts.