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By Chris Oddo | Monday October 26, 2015

 
Nadal, Basel 2015

Rafael Nadal survived a hard-fought battle with Lukas Rosol in Basel to reach the second round of the Swiss Indoors.

Photo Source: Harold Cunningham/Getty

After the type of slow start that has become all too common in Rafael Nadal’s game in Basel on Monday, Lukas Rosol was close to completing a massive first round upset over the Spaniard. Then he blinked, botching a crucial volley that would have given him two match points, and things quickly unraveled from there.

Video: Rosol's Crucial Miss Opens Door for Nadal

Nadal eventually emerged with a gritty, 1-6, 7-4, 7-6(4) win to reach the second round of the Swiss Indoors Basel.

With the victory Nadal improves to 3-1 lifetime over the surly Czech. After falling victim to Rosol at Wimbledon in 2012, the Spaniard has won three straight.

Rosol crushed Nadal in the opening set, hitting winners at will as Nadal struggled to find his sensations. It looked as if Rosol was going to race to easy victory, but Nadal seemed to come to life gradually, starting at about the middle of the second set. The Czech would move ahead with an early break in set two but his fate took a turn for the worse when he served for the match at 5-4.

Having not faced a break point all day, Rosol suddenly lost the script after taking a 30-0 lead. He botched a backhand volley at the net sending the ball high and away from the court to let Nadal even at 30-all, and on the next point a Nadal crosscourt forehand winner gave the third seed his first break point in the form of a set point.

Rosol would save that one, but Nadal would break through a few points later to level at 5-all and proceed to take the next two games to secure the set.

Though Nadal has taken control of the rivalry with Rosol, the testiness remains. There was tension between the players at times today, and at one point during the third set Nadal complained about Rosol tapping his racquet on the court as he prepared to serve (something Rosol has been known to do with regularity throughout his career). The situation was quickly put to rest when umpire told Nadal that he’d been doing it all match.

In other words, get used to it, and let's get on with it.

Seizing the momentum from his second-set revival, Nadal had the break lead in the third set but couldn’t hold it. He overcooked a forehand to hand the break back to Rosol in the seventh game and the two marched in lockstep to a deciding set tiebreaker from there.

It looked as though Rosol might make good in the end as he took a 3-0 lead in the tiebreaker, but Nadal rallied behind some of his best tennis of the match to regain the mini-break and win the final five points of the contest to clinch the victory.

Nadal finished with 23 winners against 27 unforced errors, while Rosol hit 39 winners against 46 unforced errors.

Nadal will face either Grigor Dimitrov or Sergiy Stakhovsky in his next match at Basel.

 

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