Defeat seemed to have latched itself to Rafael Nadal as the poorest form of his decade-long career continues. The Spaniard who is now ranked world number 9 conceded yet another loss in the hands of Japanese fourth seed Kei Nishikori 6-2,6-4 in the quarter finals of Rogers Cup.
Nishikori got an early break in the beginning of the first set and controlled the match entirely after that. Shooting down aces that were amazingly kissing the sidelines and pouncing on Nadal’s return helped him to overrule the Spaniard.
Nadal, more than his physical drive lacked a strong mentality, which has been a surprising factor since the start of this year. Although he showed glimpses of the vintage form he is familiar for with fist pounds in the air and grunts, it didn’t suffice to stop the Japanese.
Nishikori hit 25 winners and 29 unforced errors to Nadal’s 15 and 20, respectively. However, the Spaniard won very less points on Nishikori’s second serve (38 percent), struggling to make returns in most occasions. Additionally, Nishikori converted all the four break points he achieved into his advantage, going double breaks up in both the sets.
Nadal sparked some hope in the second set when he played a marvellous game and got one break back with a fantastic off backhand winner that drew a loud roar from him as well. However, Nishikori hung in there in his next serve, denying Nadal a chance to level up the set.
The 29-year old,14-time grand slams champion was seen to kick the ball in the air, and scream at himself towards the end of the match – the former, quite contradictory to his known calm and composed nature. The crowd was evidently behind Nadal, cheering on each of his points and urging him to take the second set. But to no avail.
Nishikori finished the match with a brilliant cross court winner, which again kissed the line. The match also saw a little heat when both Nishikori and Nadal had some exchange of words with the chair umpire. After Nadal challenged a point, Nishikori complained to the chair umpire on the Spaniard taking too much time to challenge.
Nadal won the challenge eventually and the point too. The loss serves to be yet another proof that Nadal’s game is slowly breaking. What stuns the world is that it’s not because of his weak knees that have troubled him throughout his career, but his mental strength, which no one thought of.