Rafael Nadal withdrew from his ATP comeback event on Thursday after a two-month break, but he said his injured foot has improved and because of that he believes “important things are possible”. ۔
The 35-year-old Spanish left-hander, a 20-time Grand Slam champion, lost 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 to Lloyd Harris of South Africa in the third round of the City Open.
After losing the French Open semi-final to Novak Djokovic, Nadal extended his foot injury in his first match in a three-set victory over American Jack Sack on the Washington hardcourt.
“The good news is, the foot was better,” Nadal said. “I was able to move a little better, so it’s very important, especially for me personally, to enjoy the game and gain energy, to believe that important things are possible.”
The highlight of Nadal’s next schedule is the US Open, which starts on August 30.
Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer all entered the US Open with a record 20 men’s career slam titles, Djokovic trying to complete the first Grand Slam of the men’s calendar year since Rod Lever in 1969.
“I need to improve,” Nadal said. “I had a lot of trouble with my feet. I wasn’t able to practice all the days I really wanted to, but I did as much as I could.
“And I tried a lot here. I try a lot.
Nadal did not lift the racquet for 20 days due to his foot injury, skipping Wimbledon and the Olympics.
“All I have to do is move forward, accept the challenge that I need to keep working on and I probably have another chance next week in Toronto,” Nadal said. “I will do my best.
“The most positive thing is that my foot was better than yesterday, so that’s great news.”
Harris, ranked 50th in his career, called it the biggest victory of his career. His 2021 victories include fourth-ranked Dominic Theme, the current US Open champion in Dubai.
“Today was a special day,” Harris said. “I’ve had some big wins and I’ve beaten some Grand Slam champions, but beating the 20-time Grand Slam champion in front of a whole crowd with such an amazing atmosphere, it was definitely something special. Definitely keep it there (at its best).
“I’m glad how it all turned out.”
Harris was the first player since Denis Shapovalov to beat Nadal in his opening match in Montreal in 2017.
Harris booked the quarterfinals on Friday against Japan’s Kei Nishikori, who defeated seventh-seeded Cameron Nori of Britain 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
“I lost to Lloyd in Dubai this year, so I’m not my favorite opponent,” Nishikori said. “But we’ll see.”
Nadal put a forehand to break in the seventh game and Harris offered to take the first set, but Spaniard won the second set, breaking in the fourth and sixth games to force the third set.
Harris, 24, saved two break points in the first game of the final set, the second on his 10th S and both retained their winning points.
In a 20-year-old youth match, Canadian second seed Felix Auger Alsace, ranked 15th in his career, lost 6-3, 6-4 to American wild card Jensen Brooksby.
Brooksby, ranked 130th, was a runner-up at Newport last month but has never beaten a top 90 opponent.
“I have to see what I can do in some areas,” said Canadian. “I fought with what I had, but overall it played a better match.”
Brooksby plays 11th seed John Millman of Australia in the semi-finals on Friday, defeating eighth seed Riley Opelka of the United States 6-3, 7-6 (7/4).
Italian 19-year-old Jenk Sunner defeated 20-year-old Sebastian Corda of the United States 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/3) to book a match with American Steve Johnson.