Nadal Survives Day of Upsets at Citi Open (photos)

Rafael “Rafa” Nadal of Spain made his long anticipated debut at the Citi Open in Washington D.C. on Wednesday Aug. 4, but had to fight off a stiff challenge from American Jack Sock 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (1) in a day of upsets. The day already saw the exit of No. 3 seed Alex de Minaur, No. 4 Grigor Dimitrov, No. 6 Dan Evans, No. 9 Alexander Bublik, No. 10 Taylor Fritz and No. 13 Benoit Paire.

Nadal’s play showed periodic displays of brilliance, particularly in the first set of the over-three-hour match, including a spectacular back-to-the-net, between-the-legs volley which brought a standing ovation from the capacity crowd of 7500. However the ATP World Tour No. 3-ranked men’s singles player was clearly shaking off some of the rust from a two-month layoff and a painful foot injury.

The 20-time Grand Slam tournament champion is hoping to win his 89th ATP singles title here at the FitzGerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park in the District. Next up for Nadal, 14th-seeded South African Lloyd Harris in the quarterfinals on Friday.

According to, Nadal expressed appreciation for the Citi Open crowds and confidence in his quarterfinals preparation: “Maybe [it] is not about resting, but the moment to just keep going,” Nadal said. “[It] is the moment to not practice much because I played a three-hour match, so I need to be ready for tomorrow…. “[I will] have a short warm-up tomorrow, try to be ready for the match. I’m going to have a tough opponent in front. Let’s see. Tomorrow’s another day, another opportunity to play in front of this amazing crowd. I want to enjoy the experience again.”


View Jeff Malet’s photos of the action as the 2021 Citi Open reaches the halfway point by clicking on the photo icons below.


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