(August 4, 2021) Top seed and world No. 3 Rafael Nadal recovered from a break down in the third set to stop Jack Sock 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(1) in his opening match at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday night. It was a battle of big forehands, after Nadal dominated the first set.
The match which was a little over three hours, saw a glimpse of the American Jack Sock of old, who was once ranked as high as No. 8 in the world four years ago. In recent years Sock had fallen on hard times in his singles game. He is currently ranked No. 192 in the world and needed a wild card to get into the main draw.
The Spaniard was making his debut at the Washington, D.C. tournament. He had not played any tournaments since he lost his semifinal match against Novak Djokovic at the French Open in June.
Nadal admitted that he was having some issues with his foot during the match.
“The match wasn’t easy,” he said. “I think I started more or less well the first set. Then I played a bad game in the second. It’s true that when the match was coming, my foot was coming, too. I started to suffer a little bit too much.
“Then Jack played some great points. I was not able to damage him with my shots and I was not able to come back on the points when he was having the initiative, no? Have been tough.
“But I finished the match playing better. That’s important. I hope to be ready for tomorrow.”
“I think my serve could be better. For moments the percentage have been too low. Then you open the door to a player like him. Of course, as I said before, no, is not easy to play against Jack, but at the same time he create damage. But he has some mistakes, too, no?”
“My fitness is fine,” Nadal added. “I just need to be a little bit — I need to have a little bit of less pain in the foot, honestly. That’s the true. But physically I feel more or less okay.
“Of course, you need matches like this to be fitter after a month without competing. But that’s part of the process, and I know the process. I went through all this stuff many times on my career. So it’s something I am not worried about.
“So is about winning these kind of matches. That helps you to be better. Then, if I’m able to improve with my foot, I think the rest of the things going to come step by step.”
Nadal will play 14th seed Lloyd Harris of South African for a spot in the quarterfinals.
Wednesday saw an exodus of seeds: No. 3 Alex de Minaur, No. 4 Grigor Dimitrov, No. 6 Dan Evans No. 9 Alexander Bublik, No. 10 Taylor Fritz and No. 13 Benoit Paire all lost. Evans lost in his first match since testing positive for COVID last month which caused him to miss the Olympics.
“I had been vaccinated, one shot. I was waiting to take the second of the Pfizer. I obviously got it,” Evans told media. “After Wimbledon I was supposed to take my second shot. It had been the weeks which I needed to have to then take a second shot. Then I had it. Now I need to wait 30 days until I can take a second shot.”
“Theoretically I was able to go to the Olympics, but just wasn’t the best preparation. I had to be pretty selfish in the end and also give someone else the chance to go and play. Yeah, I mean, it was difficult.
“It was a no-brainer really. I was pretty sick. I knew I wasn’t ready in any way to take a long-haul flight, five days’ practice, get going in singles or doubles. Like today was a push. It wouldn’t have been right.
“I had the typical symptoms, yeah, aching bones, all that stuff. It was a rough five, six days when I had the symptoms. Then obviously you’ve got to isolate. Then I give myself a bit of time to come round. It wouldn’t have been right to just jump straight back out. Yeah, that’s what I did. I took it pretty slow.
“Yeah, now it’s about working my way back into match shape and strength and getting my game where it needs to be. I think if you watched the match, wasn’t in great shape. It was very up and down. Some good things. But you can’t expect to come out and try and win those matches without playing good tennis.”
Evans was beaten 7-6 (1), 6-0 by Brandon Nakashima of the U.S. who has made ATP finals in his last two tournaments.
2021 CITI OPEN RESULTS – WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 4, 2021
 [WC] R. Nadal (ESP) d. [WC] J. Sock (USA), 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (1)
S. Johnson (USA) d.  A. de Minaur (AUS), 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-2
I. Ivashka (BLR) d.  G. Dimitrov (BUL), 6-2, 7-6 (4)
 J. Sinner (ITA) d. E. Ruusuvuori (FIN), 6-2, 6-4
[WC] B. Nakashima (USA) d.  D. Evans (GBR), 7-6 (1), 6-0
 R. Opelka (USA) d. D. Galan (COL), 7-6 (1), 6-3
K. Nishikori (JPN) d.  A. Bublik (KAZ), 6-2, 7-5
D. Kudla (USA) d.  T. Fritz (USA), 6-4, 6-2
 J. Millman (AUS) d. [Q] E. Ymer (SWE), 6-2, 7-6 (8)
M. McDonald (USA) d.  B. Paire (FRA), 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-4
 L. Harris (RSA) d. T. Sandgren (USA), 6-4, 1-0 (Retired)
A. de Minaur (AUS) / J. Millman (AUS) d.  J. Peers (AUS) / F. Polasek (SVK), 7-6 (4), 5-7, 10-7
 N. Skupski (GBR) / M. Venus (NZL) d. F. Martin (FRA) / M. Purcell (AUS), 7-5, 6-3
[WC] N. Kyrgios (AUS) / F. Tiafoe (USA) d.  R. Bopanna (IND) / I. Dodig (CRO), 7-5, 1-6, 11-9
M. Daniell (NZL) / M. Melo (BRA) d. M. Arevalo (ESA) / M. Middelkoop (NED), 7-6 (8), 6-2
ORDER OF PLAY – THURSDAY, AUGUST 5, 2021
STADIUM COURT start 2:00 pm
 J. Sinner (ITA) vs  S. Korda (USA)
[WC] J. Brooksby (USA) vs  F. Auger-Aliassime (CAN)
Not Before 7:00 pm
 [WC] R. Nadal (ESP) vs  L. Harris (RSA)
CITI OPEN WOMEN’S INVITATIONAL –  V. Azarenka (BLR) vs  C. Gauff (USA)
JOHN HARRIS COURT start 2:00 pm
D. Kudla (USA) vs [WC] B. Nakashima (USA)
K. Nishikori (JPN) vs  C. Norrie (GBR)
I. Ivashka (BLR) vs M. McDonald (USA)
After Suitable Rest – C. Norrie (GBR) / L. Saville (AUS) vs  N. Skupski (GBR) / M. Venus (NZL)
GRANDSTAND COURT start 2:00 pm
R. Berankis (LTU) vs S. Johnson (USA)
 R. Opelka (USA) vs  J. Millman (AUS)
 R. Klaasen (RSA) / B. McLachlan (JPN) vs G. Dimitrov (BUL) / T. Paul (USA)
After Suitable Rest – S. Korda (USA) / J. Sinner (ITA) vs [WC] N. Kyrgios (AUS) / F. Tiafoe (USA) or  R. Bopanna (IND) / I. Dodig (CRO)