After what had been a sweltering day in Cincinnati, the ominous crack of thunder and occasional flashes of lightning accompanied the World No. 1-to-be, Rafael Nadaland Richard Gasquet onto court. On a day that had seen the younger US stars making their mark, it was down to two veritable veterans of the tour to close out the day’s play, but not before the rain had its say.
With a quick break of the Frenchman in the first set, Nadal held on to his advantage to round out the first set before repeating the task at the start of the second set. While Gasquet saved the first match point against him, Nadal battered through the final game to love to ease into the third round.
Only needing to save a single break point, Nadal was dominant on serve winning 85% of his 1st serve points and 65% on 2nd serve points.
“Just the start of the tournament. Was important start for me. Always important to win the first match, especially after what happened last week, losing the match that way” said Nadal in his post-match press conference.
There was little doubt in his pre-tournament press conference that the loss against Canadian wild-card still smarted, having called it one of his worst losses at the time. A week on and it is clear that this was the kind of loss that would spur him on.
World No. 1 spot all the sweeter, after injury woes
With Roger Federer and Andy Murrayboth withdrawing from Cincinnati, Nadal is guaranteed a return to the world No. 1 ranking next Monday.
Previously in his pre-tournament press conference, Nadal said: “For me personally obviously to be back to that position is something special,. A lot of things have happened since the last time I was in this spot. Injuries and some tough moments, of course, but I have held the passion and the love for the game, and that’s why I have the chance to be back in that position again. So I’m just trying to enjoy the moment and just trying to be ready to compete well here. That’s the most important thing for me now.”
Nadal’s return to the top of the ATP world rankings will be his first time back since July 6, 2014. He first became No. 1 on August 18, 2008 and will set a new record for the longest gap in time between a debut at No. 1 and most recent date at No. 1, of nine years and three days when the new rankings come out on Monday 21 August.
Nadal is scheduled to play Albert Ramos-Vinolas on Centre Court, not before 7pm (Midnight, BST).
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