Rafael Nadal has suffered a heartbreaking defeat at the U.S. Open, loosing 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(6) to Lucas Pouille, a 22-year-old from France.
Nadal led by a break of serve early in the fifth set. In the fifth-set tiebreaker, he trailed 6-3 before saving three match points to tie the score at 6-6. But then Nadal missed a shot that he never used to miss, a forehand in the middle of the court that was ready made for a winner. He drilled it into the net. On the next point, Pouille smashed a winner and fell to his back in triumph.
Nadal, a 14-time Grand Slam singles champion, had been making a comeback in recent weeks. At the French Open, he was forced to withdraw from the tournament because of a wrist injury. He skipped Wimbledon and decided to play at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. There, he won a gold medal in doubles and lost in the bronze-medal match of the singles tournament. He came to New York feeling healthier, he said, and more confident.
Nadal won his first three matches at the Open without losing a set—and then Pouille won the first set of this match in 28 minutes. The match was full of long rallies and lunging volleys, and Pouille showed off his variety, speed and resilience.Pouille’s victory puts him in the Open’s quarterfinals for the first time in his career. He also reached the quarterfinals of Wimbledon this year. He next plays countryman Gael Monfils, who advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Marcos Baghdatis.