Nadal recovers from bagel to win landmark match

An elated Rafael Nadal after defeating Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round of the Miami Masters in Florida. He chalked up his 822nd career win and is one of 11 men to play at least 1,000 matches.
An elated Rafael Nadal after defeating Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round of the Miami Masters in Florida. He chalked up his 822nd career win and is one of 11 men to play at least 1,000 matches.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MIAMI • Rafael Nadal celebrated his 1,000th Tour-level tennis match with a come-from-behind victory over German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber to reach the fourth round of the Miami Masters on Sunday.

Kohlschreiber, the German world No. 31, ripped through the first set in only 21 minutes, but fifth seed Nadal turned the match on its head to prevail 0-6, 6-2, 6-3 on the main stadium hard court at Crandon Park.

It was the first time the Spaniard had failed to win a game in the first set of an ATP Tour match since 2008.

The 30-year-old ignited the near-capacity crowd with a typically determined comeback to clinch his 822nd career victory. He is in a group of 11 players, headed by Jimmy Connors (1,535), to have played at least 1,000 matches.

"One thousand matches is a lot of matches. Obviously that's good news because that says I am having a long career," he said. "During a lot of years, I heard that I'm going to have a short career, so it's something important for me."

Nadal said he had not done much wrong in the first set against an opponent who was in the zone. "He was doing everything good, so that's sport. I lose the set because he was playing too good. That's it.

"But a match is long and the positive thing is I held the pressure well this afternoon after a very tough first set. I resisted well in the first few games of the second set and then I think I played a great second and third set."

Nadal next faces France's Nicolas Mahut, a 6-4, 6-3 winner over Argentinian Guido Pella.

While the Spaniard played in the relative comfort of the late afternoon, Kei Nishikori took three sets and nearly three hours to advance under a high noon sun, outlasting Spain's Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (7-2), 6-7 (5-7), 6-1.

The Japanese star, runner-up to Novak Djokovic last year, fired 37 winners but Verdasco, aided by persistent swirling winds, used his varying pace and depth to rattle the world No. 4, inducing 48 unforced errors.

Earlier, world No. 5 Milos Raonic withdrew from the tournament before his match against American qualifier Jared Donaldson, blaming a persistent hamstring injury.

"It's related to the previous injury I sustained almost four weeks ago in Delray Beach," the Canadian said.

Raonic said he would not return to the tour until he felt 100 per cent fit: "That could be in two weeks, that could be a little bit longer."

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 28, 2017, with the headline 'Nadal recovers from bagel to win landmark match'. Print Edition | Subscribe