No excuses as Nadal falls

Spaniard loses in straight sets to improving Kyrgios; Pliskova in position to stay at No. 1

CINCINNATI (Ohio) • Rafael Nadal admitted that he played a "terrible game" and there were no excuses for his 6-2, 7-5 defeat by Australia's Nick Kyrgios in their quarter-final clash at the ATP and WTA Cincinnati Open on Friday.

As defending champion Karolina Pliskova won twice in one day to tighten her grip on the world No. 1 ranking, Kyrgios stole the show by overpowering the 15-time Grand Slam champion after each had also won earlier.

"He obviously is a tough match always," Nadal told reporters. "Nick is a great player, but I played poorly. I started the match well and then I played a very bad game in the second set when he broke me.

"I played some good points. He had some mistakes and I was able to be back in the match. And then I played terribly."

Despite the defeat, the 31-year-old will be the world No. 1 for the fourth time in his career when the ATP rankings are released tomorrow.

"Playing Nadal on centre court, that's where your best has to come out," Kyrgios said. "A performance like today, I'm seeing progress."

Nadal took only six of 20 second-serve points and won just five off his opponent's first serve. The Spaniard committed 10 unforced errors in the first three games.

"No excuses. Nothing at all," he added. "If I don't play well I can't win against a player like Nick."

Kyrgios, ranked 23rd, faces Spain's David Ferrer this morning (Singapore time) for a berth in the final.

Earlier, the Australian defeated Croatia's Ivo Karlovic 4-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 and Nadal downed compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-6 (7-1), 6-2 in rain-postponed matches.

In the women's competition, Pliskova, fighting to hold off Romania's Simona Halep atop the rankings, first ousted Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 in another weather-delayed match.

With only two hours between matches, the Czech then defeated Denmark's fifth-ranked Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-4 to book a semi-final berth.

"I feel pretty good," said the 25-year-old. "I recover well, so definitely I will be ready. No pressure about being world No. 1."

Second-ranked Halep eliminated British seventh seed Johanna Konta 6-4, 7-6 (7-1). The Romanian is the only player who can displace Pliskova as No. 1 tomorrow if results go her way.

She was set to face US wildcard Sloane Stephens in the semi-finals early this morning (Singapore time), while Pliskova took on Spain's Garbine Muguruza.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 20, 2017, with the headline 'No excuses as Nadal falls'. Print Edition | Subscribe