After losing to David Goffin on Friday, world No. 1, Rafael Nadal will be keen to get back to winning ways when he faces Australian No. 1, Alex De Minaur in the semi-finals of the ATP Cup on Saturday might.
Nadal suffered his first ever ATP Cup defeat on Friday, losing 6-4 7-6 to an inspired David Goffin. The great Spaniard had won his three round robin matches in straight sets, beating Nikoloz Basilashvili, Pablo Cuevas and Yoshihito Nishioka, but he was second best against Goffin in the quarter finals, falling to the Belgian for just the second time in six meetings.
The loss to Goffin ended Nadal’s impressive 29-match winning streak while representing Spain (the winning streak doesn’t include the Olympic Games).
Interestingly, Goffin has now beaten Nadal in their two matches on hard courts, with his only previous win coming at the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals. Nadal’s four wins over the Belgian have all been on his favourite clay.
The world No. 1 was kept on the back foot by a very aggressive Goffin on Friday- the Belgian taking the ball early and attacking down the line, stopping Nadal from dictating with his forehand. Both men exchanged breaks midway through the opening set, but Goffin scored the decisive break at 4-4, closing out the ninth game on his fourth break point with a return winner. The Belgian served out the set fairly comfortably in the next game.
Goffin extended his run of games to five in a row to open up a 2-0 lead in the second set, but Nadal fought back to even at 4-4, and appeared to have the momentum in the latter stages of the set. Goffin held his nerve to force a tie break, sticking to his attacking strategy. He played a near perfect breaker to claim a hugely impressive victory over the world No. 1.
“He played a great level of tennis. Doing a lot of things well. And at the same time, for me, it was a little bit under energy, because I was sweating a lot and I lost my energy in the first set,” Nadal said.
“Everybody knows how good David is, and at the same time he’s a great guy so happy for him.”
Nadal returned to the court minutes later to partner Pablo Carreno Busta to victory in the must-win doubles rubber against the Belgians.
“Coming from Perth we didn’t have a lot of time to adapt and today the conditions were very heavy with humidity”, Nadal said. Playing against David in the singles was a very difficult thing”.
“But we are super happy to be in the semi-finals… We’re excited to play a very tough one against Australia. We will give our best like we have done all through our careers.”
The 19-time major winner will now attempt to get back to winning ways in singles matches when he faces De Minaur on Saturday.
“[De Minaur is] going to be a big challenge too,” said Nadal. “He’s a great player. Young with a lot of energy.”
The Spaniard holds a dominant record against the Aussie, winning both of their previous matches in straight sets. He defeated De Minaur 6-1 6-2 6-4 at Wimbledon in 2018, and repeated the same scoreline in their second encounter at the Australian Open last year.
Nadal and De Minaur are scheduled to meet in the second rubber of the semi-final, following the opening rubber between Roberto Bautista-Agut and Nick Kyrgios.