Soon to be World Number 1 Rafael Nadal faces a challenging prospect on Friday in Cincinnati. Following a rain delayed Thursday evening, Rafa will be facing the arduous task of winning two matches in one day. First on Nadal’s list of victims was fellow countryman 24th ranked Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas had come through two three set matches to make it this far. He faced an uphill battle to notch his first win against the imperious Nadal.
Following the withdrawals of both Roger Federer and Andy Murray, the Spaniard is guaranteed to be Number 1 on Monday. The Majorcan native lived up to his new ranking in stubborn style, unfazed by his frantic Friday schedule.
The two Spanish lefties were fairly routine on serve. Holding with ease in the first five games. It was in the fifth game that Ramos-Vinolas hit one of the shots of the tournament. After chasing an immaculately placed Nadal lob, the lower-ranked Spaniard then responded with a perfect cross-court backhand winner. Ramos-Vinolas then went on to hold for 3-3.
However with Nadal serving first, he always held the upper-hand in the contest. Whenever threatened at the baseline, the number 1 seed succeeded to the net and put away a solid volley. Nadal earned his first break point which was in-turn a set point in the tenth game. Ramos-Vinolas successfully fended it off however to level for 5-5.
From there both men went on to hold to take the first set into a tie-break. A double-fault from Ramos-Vinolas handed Rafa the mini-break to lead 2-1. From that point on, Nadal did not relinquish his grip on the tie-break. He ultimately went on to take it 7-6 in 58 minutes.
After facing his first break point of the match in the second game of the set, Nadal held for 1-1. After the sit down, Rafa found himself down 0-40, before raging back to take the game. From 2-2, Ramos-Vinolas began to feel the pressure from the higher ranked Spaniard as he was broken to trail 2-3.
Here, Rafa began to tighten the noose, forcing Ramos-Vinolas into errors. He broke again in the seventh game to go up 5-2. Nadal successfully served out the match for a 7-6, 6-2 victory after striking a perfect cross-court forehand in 1 hour 37 minutes.
The Spaniard now extends his record against Ramos-Vinolas to 4-0. It wasn’t vintage, but the greats always find a way to win when not playing their best. He will be hoping to recover in time for his Quarter-final clash this evening against Nick Kyrgios. The Majorcan takes a 2-1 lead against the Australian into that match.
Will Nadal have enough in the tank to nullify Nick’s power game? Have your say in the comments sections below. Be sure to follow us on www.tennis-pulse.com for complete coverage of the Cincinnati Masters.