Dolgopolov Upsets Nadal In Queen's Club Opener

Ukrainian defeats Rafael Nadal for a second straight meeting. 

Two days after winning the grass-court title in Stuttgart, Rafael Nadal’s singles campaign at the Aegon Championship came to an early end with a loss to Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first round.

The Ukrainian recorded his second straight win over the Spaniard in their sixth FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting, prevailing 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-4 on Tuesday at the Queen's Club in London.

“Overall I'm really happy with the match,” he said. “Not even because I beat Nadal but the way I played and the way I fought back after a disappointing second set. I think overall I had a really good match.”

Dolgopolov had failed to close out the match at 6-5 in the second set tie-break, and fell behind to start the third as he dropped serve in the fourth game. He came back strong, winning the final four games to clinch the victory after two hours and 13 minutes.

"I was a break up in the third, and then he played some good points," said Nadal. "I missed a few balls... Nothing to say against me. I played against an uncomfortable player in the first round here and I had my chance. I didn't play a bad match, but matches here are sometimes decided by just a few things, and I was not lucky enough today. I probably didn't play enough aggressive when I was up a break at 4-3."

World No. 10 Nadal had reached the quarter-finals or better in his five previous visits to the Queen’s Club, claiming the title in 2008 by defeating Novak Djokovic in the final. 

He returned to the court later in the evening, as he teamed up with countryman Marc Lopez for a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Milos Raonic and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

Dolgopolov had also edged Nadal last year in a third set tie-break in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open, and called the Queen’s Club victory more significant considering his circumstances.

“I had a rough end of the last year,” he said. “I had surgery. I didn't have a really good start of this year. I had some injuries. So it's important, confidence-wise and to get back on the level I would like to be on. In Indian Wells, I had a really good run, so I was more waiting for that win. I was more believing that I could do it. Here I think it was more important for me.”

Dolgopolov, a quarter-finalist last year at this grass-court tournament, snapped a three-match losing streak with Tuesday's win. He will next play Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

Last week’s Stuttgart finalist, Viktor Troicki, made his way safely through to the second round with a 7-6(4), 1-6, 6-4 win over French qualifier Paul-Henri Mathieu. He next meets fourth seed Marin Cilic, who took just over two hours to defeat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-2 in the final match of the day.

Meanwhile, ‘s-Hertogenbosch runner-up David Goffin failed to convert two match points in a 6-7(6), 7-5, 6-2 loss to seventh-seeded Frenchman Gilles Simon. Simon will next play Australian wild card Thanasi Kokkinakis, who rallied for a 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-4 win over France’s Jeremy Chardy.