Nadal Cruises In Montreal Opener
Rafael Nadal’s bid to regain top spot in the Emirates ATP Rankings is off on the right foot with the Spaniard easily accounting for #NextGenATP Croatian Borna Coric at the Coupe Rogers on Wednesday. Nadal had fallen in two of the pair’s three prior FedExATP Head2Head meetings but was barely troubled in a 6-1, 6-2 result in Montreal.
Coric had claimed the pair’s most recent encounter, also on North American hard courts, at the Western & Southern Open last season. Despite the one-sided scoreline on Wednesday, Nadal admitted that defeat was never far from his mind.
“Never too easy,” Nadal said. “At the beginning of the match there were great points. I think I started playing so well in the first set and in general, I played a great match. Last time that I played against him I lost, last year in Cincinnati. It was not an easy round for me.”
It sets a round of 16 showdown with Coric’s #NextGenATP stablemate, Canadian wild card Denis Shapovalov. The 18 year old became the youngest player to reach the round of 16 in an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event since Nadal in 2004 with his earlier defeat of Juan Martin del Potro.
“He's a great opponent. He is an aggressive player. He is young, he has a lot of energy,” Nadal said. “I'm sure that he will be confident after winning the first match, saving a big match against Dutra Silva, and today winning against one of the best players of the world.”
“It is great news that new young players are coming strong. I think it is important for our sport to have young people there, too. [They] always have a lot of energy, involve the crowd.”
Against Coric, Nadal raced through the first set in just 29 minutes and with the Croatian spraying forehands wide at 1-3 down in the second set, he began to mutter his frustrations to himself. It was primarily down to one factor – the relentless play from his opponent. A double fault from Coric handed Nadal the double break to provide breathing space for the top seed.
Nadal would not face a break point in the match until the 13th game when Coric rolled a heavy forehand into the corner to draw the error. It went begging with a wayward return long and the Spaniard survived a lengthy battle on serve to close to within a game of the match.
Nadal served it out on his second match point when Coric fired long. It was a resounding display in which he finished with 20 winners to his opponent’s seven.