The Spanish Rafael Nadal, who returned from a two-month break due to an injury, fell on Thursday against the South African Lloyd Harris with partial 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 in the third round of the ATP tournament in Washington .
With the victory, Harris advanced to the quarterfinals, where he will face Japan’s Kei Nishikori, who defeated seventh-seeded Briton Cameron Norries with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 score.
The 35-year-old Spaniard, a 20-time Grand Slam champion, gave up in the first set and after easily winning the second (6-1) could not lift the third and delivered it with the same score as the first: 6-4 .
Nadal, world number three, aggravated a foot injury in a three-set win over American Jack Sock on Wednesday in his first match since losing in the French Open semifinals to world number one Serbian Novak Djokovic.
“The best news, the foot was better than yesterday,” said Nadal. “I will continue to accept the challenge that I have before me and I have a chance next week in Toronto,” said the Iberian.
«I need to keep improving. I had a lot of problems with my foot. I couldn’t practice every day that I really wanted to, but I did everything I could. I tried very hard here. I try a lot. But it was not enough, “Nadal said at a press conference.
“I will keep trying to practice in the right way and give myself the opportunity to improve soon. I will continue to do my best. The most positive thing is that my foot was better than yesterday, so that is the best possible news, “he added.
Nadal was chasing his 89th career title in this tournament, in addition to catching up with the Toronto and Cincinnati Masters 1000s and the US Open, the latter starting on August 30 in New York.
Rafa had not taken a racket for about 20 days due to a pain in his left foot, skipping Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics.
Djokovic, Nadal and the Swiss Roger Federer will enter the US Open with a record 20 career Grand Slam titles each, with the Serb trying to complete the first men’s Grand Slam of the calendar year since Rod Laver in 1969.
Third-placed Nadal, who won clay-court titles earlier this year in Rome and Barcelona, had three non-seeded opponents in the middle of the draw in Washington.
Harris becomes the first player to beat Nadal in his first meeting with the Spaniard since Denis Shapovalov in Montreal in 2017.
The 24-year-old South African had already been on a strong footing since claiming his first win over a Top-10 rival this year in Dubai by defeating fourth-ranked Dominic Thiem, current US Open champion.
For his part, Nishikori, who pushed Nadal out of the way, rallied to defeat seventh seed Norrie, who needed medical assistance on his right foot in his game against Japan.
– Auger-Aliassime also removed –
Previously, the second seed, Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, 20, second seed and ranked 15th in the world, fell to American wild card Jenson Brooksby 6-3, 6-4.
Brooksby, ranked 130th, was runner-up last month at Newport but had never beaten an opponent in the top 90.
Auger-Aliassime double-failing in the fifth game, and Brooksby was active in the final game.
“I’ll have to see what I could have done in certain areas,” said the Canadian. “I struggled with what I had, but overall he played a better game.”
Brooksby is going for a spot in the semifinals on Friday against 11th seed Australian John Millman. The 32-year-old Australian, whose only ATP title came last November in Kazakhstan, beat eighth seed American Reilly Opelka 6-3, 7-6 (7/4).
On the other hand, 19-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner beat American Sebastian Korda, 20, 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/3), booking a match with American Steve Johnson . (AFP)
– Results for Thursday at the ATP tournament in Washington:
Men – third round
Lloyd Harris (RSA / N.14) defeated Rafael Nadal (ESP / N.1) 6-4, 1-6, 6-4
Kei Nishikori (JPN) bt Cameron Norrie (GBR / N.7) 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
Mackenzie McDonald (USA) bt Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 6-4, 6-4
Denis Kudla (USA) bt Brandon Nakashima (USA) 3-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4
Jannik Sinner (ITA / N.5) to Sebastian Korda (USA / N.12) 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/3)
Steve Johnson (USA) bt Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 6-2, 6-1
John Millman (AUS / N.11) bt Reilly Opelka (USA / N.8) 6-3, 7-6 (7/4)
Jenson Brooksby (USA) to Félix Auger-Aliassime (CAN (N.2) 6-3, 6-4)