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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Rafael Nadal edges Milos Raonic in over two hours

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Rafael Nadal was a player to beat in 2019, embracing a deep run at all four Majors and lifting trophies in Paris and New York. Rafa claimed the 19th Major crown at the US Open, moving one behind Roger Federer for the first time in a career.

Nadal’s first tournament after the US Open came at the Laver Cup in Geneva. Rafa did not play at the second edition of the Laver Cup in 2018, and he returned a year later. Federer prevailed over Kyrgios on the second day, and Nadal stepped on the court next versus Milos Raonic.

Rafa beat Milos 6-3, 7-6 after challenging two hours and seven minutes to propel Team Europe 7-3 up ahead of the final day. It was their first encounter since the 2017 Australian Open, and they both gave everything to cross the finish line first.

Rafa fended off eight out of nine break points, eight in the opening set alone.

Rafael Nadal defeated Milos Raonic at the 2019 Laver Cup.

He stole the rival’s serve three times and delivered the 48th victory of the season.

Despite injuries and setbacks that ruined his season, Milos fought on a high level in this one. He fired 13 aces, but his second serve let him down, allowing Nadal to seize his chances and finishing on the losing side. The Spaniard prevailed in the crucial points to seal the deal before the deciding match tie break, preparing for another match in the doubles later that evening.

Milos had numerous chances to forge the lead in the first set, wasting no less than eight opportunities in games two, four and six! Nadal stayed calm and defended them to keep his serve intact and shake the pressure off his back.

The Canadian had to pay the price for those missing opportunities, and the Spaniard broke him at 3-3 with a backhand down the line winner. With momentum on his side, Nadal broke again in game nine after Raonic’s loose volley to wrap up the opener 6-3 after 55 minutes, hoping for a more relaxed set number two.

Instead, Milos raised his level and grabbed a break at 2-2. Raonic remained in front only for a couple of minutes, though. Nadal pulled the break back with a well-constructed attack and a volley winner to lock the result at 3-3.

They served well in the remaining six games to set up a tie break, a must-win one for Raonic. Nadal had the leading role and scored three mini-breaks to make the difference. The Spaniard clinched it 7-1 to seal the deal and send Team Europe 7-3 in front ahead of the final five encounters.


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