Rafael Nadal has been handed his 9th defeat of the season by Jurgen Melzer who beat the Spaniard 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 after almost two hours in their third round match in Shanghai. The defeat is the best win of Jurgen’s career and given him hope of qualifying for the year end Masters Cup. For Nadal, however, who qualified for London some time ago, he will now head to India for his foundation before he arrives in Paris for his second last tournament of the year starting November 7.
While the world number one managed to produce some beautiful shots in the first game to find his way to a break point, Melzer had the answer with some powerful serving as it became evident that Nadal was struggling to find his range.
When Nadal was broken in the fourth game, Melzer was pounding the ball from side to side, generating enough speed to keep Nadal either of balance or out of reach. The speed of the court, combined with the power Melzer was generating, kept Nadal out of the points and quickly gave him triple break point. Rafa tried to claw his way out of trouble but a forehand in the net was the beginning of the end of the first set as Jurgen took a 3-1 lead.
Rafa tried to force his way into the first set but Melzer was too hot for the weary Spaniard, and took the first set 6-1.
After fighting of another break point in the third game of the second set Nadal let out a huge “Vamos!” to try and fire himself up as Melzer’s continued to play brilliantly, perhaps dropping off in intensity just enough to give Rafa some breathing room.
Melzer was so impressive that he came out on top of a 25 shot baseline rally – not an easy thing to do against to worlds best defender. To his credit Nadal stayed focused and found some impossible angles across the court while on the run and under pressure. A huge fist pump and a screaming crowd marked a break of the Austrian’s serve to give Nadal a 4-2 lead. That small lead was all Rafael needed to serve out the second set to love.
In the sixth games of the third set a shanked forehand from Nadal saw Melzer take the lead and then break for a 4-2 lead which he extended with a love service game. In the following game Melzer thought the match was all over when a baseline call went against him allowing Nadal a second chance to defend two match points. With the crowd going wild the players struggled to hear the calls being made before Melzer got a third look at Nadal’s serve and the match. Eventually Nadal held, forcing Melzer to serve the match out, which he did to love, beating the Spaniard for the first time in his career.
“I felt slow on court. I had more mistakes than usual. I played shorter than usual. A little bit more tired than usual, just physically and mentally. Just congratulate him. It’s true, he played very aggressive, but wasn’t very difficult to play that aggressive against me today.” – Rafa Nadal
“I think the key was that I played the best tennis of my life. I know when I go out there against Nadal that I have to be aggressive and hit my shots. I am very proud to have served it out.” – Jurgen Melzer