Nadal battles past Ramos
Rafael Nadal’s hectic day at the Western & Southern Open began with a hard-fought 7-6(1) 6-2 success over Albert Ramos-Vinolas in Cincinnati
The 2013 champion had to dig deep to overcome his gritty rival and he only has a brief opportunity to rest before returning to the court later this evening to take on Nick Kyrgios in an eagerly-anticipated quarter-final.
Nadal and Kyrgios are both on double-duty this afternoon due to wet weather in Cincinnati on Thursday night. Their respective matches were postponed and the pair are required to play catch-up as the tournament attempts to stay on course for a Sunday finish.
The French Open champion, who will return to world No.1 on Monday, made it 11 wins in a row against fellow Spaniards but he will be slightly concerned by his level of performance. The top seed’s famed baseline consistency was absent for much of the contest and he was especially shaky in the first set.
Ramos-Vinolas, as always, was rock-solid and he stayed with his illustrious opponent in the opener. The 29-year-old saved a set-point on his delivery with a forehand winner and eventually forced a tiebreak.
The shootout quickly slipped away from Ramos-Vinolas after he committed a double-fault to gift his rival a 2-1 advantage. Nadal had the mini-break he craved and he did not concede another point as he bounded to his chair with the first set banked.
Ramos-Vinolas is a plucky competitor and he was in the ascendancy at the start of the second set however he was left with little to show for his efforts. Nadal, assisted by some fine serving, held off his rival’s advances and saved a total of four break-points.
After recording a significant hold and leveling at two apiece, Nadal pushed for home and his increasingly frustrated opponent was unable to respond. The 31-year-old won a further four games on the bounce to remain on course to bag his first hard-court title in over three years.
Kyrgios earned his shot at the favourite by overcoming Ivo Karlovic 4-6 7-6(3) 6-3. The Australian was focused and patient throughout as he fought back from a set down to maintain his unbeaten record against the Croatian.