Reigning champion Rafael Nadal made his debut in Montreal three years ago. Rafa beat Britain’s Daniel Evans 7-6, 6-4 in two hours and one minute. It was Nadal’s first hard court match since his retirement before meeting Roger Federer in Indian Wells in March.
It cost him a little, but he did enough to seal the deal in direct collections. The Spaniard gave up 19 points on serve and had two breaks from the Englishman’s many chances. On the other hand, Evans hit the first serve and performed well.
Still, he suffered three breaks to push Nadal back on second serve, squandering two set points in the first break. The Spaniard had 32 winners and 16 unforced errors. At the same time, Evans boasted a 28-20 ratio, scoring more points in the short range, but missing the mid-range and long-range advantage that ensured victory for the world No.2.
Rafa made a forehand error in the first game of the match and stopped serving. After a big attack and a backhand winner, he broke it back at 2-3 to get back on the positive side. The momentum was now on Nadal’s side of the court.
He served well for the rest of the set, keeping the pressure on the other side and creating two set points at 5-4. Deciding to keep the points at bay, Daniel went for the serve and the volley, saving both set points and extending the set.
The Brit gained momentum and built a 6-4 lead. Rafa kept his cool and saved two break points with two forehand winners. After 70 exhausting minutes, he got four points in a row for 8-6.
Andy Roddick against Rafa Nadal
Speaking on Tennis Channel, Andy Roddick suggested that the Spaniard’s management had done well to play the opening match as late as possible.
“Rafael Nadal’s management will support him to get into that Wednesday night time slot and give him as much time as possible to prepare and get his practice reps. But listen, you know it’s tough when Rafa gets to a tournament a week early. To adjust to the conditions in Cincinnati, Roddick said.
“I’m sure he’ll play practice matches every day. So Rafa, not this time – if he doesn’t feel he can play a healthy match on Wednesday night, he’s not going to sacrifice being healthy to play at the US Open in Cincinnati,” he added.