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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday August 4 2021


Rafael Nadal battled past Jack Sock in a three-set thriller at the Citi Open, despite foot pain that caused a limp.

Photo Source: Christopher Levy

Rafael Nadal opened his North American hard court swing under an injury cloud, but the 20-time major champion didn’t let his nagging foot injury keep him from displaying his trademark tenaciousness as he rallied from a set down in the third set to defeat wild card Jack Sock 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(1) on Wednesday night in Washington, D.C.

Tennis Express

Out of action since June 11 when he lost to Novak Djokovic in the Roland-Garros semifinal, Nadal needed 20 days away from the court to get back into playing shape, and even was forced out of Wimbledon and the Olympics.

"If I had to choose, I will never miss Wimbledon and Olympics," Nadal told reporters in his pre-tournament press conference. "But I was not able to compete in these events after the clay court season. I had some issues in my foot, so I had to stop playing tennis for around 20 days, not touching a racquet for 20 days. I started slowly, practicing half an hour, then little bit more. So I went through the whole process."

That process led him to his first-rounder with Sock, and things were going swimmingly for Nadal from the start, despite Sock's fine play. But after Sock pummeled him with a foray of menacing forehands to force a third set, it became apparent that Nadal is still searching for 100 percent fitness.

At times limping between points, the Spaniard nevertheless continued to battle and eventually erased a third-set deficit and finished off the former World No.8 in a lopsided tiebreaker to bring the appreciative crowd to its feet at the conclusion of the three hour and four-minute tussle.

It was a vintage Nadal finish, the heart and the will guiding him to victory once again.

After the victory Nadal talked about his foot and said he believes that he is making progress with the injury.

“My fitness is fine,” Nadal said. “I just need to be a little bit -- I need to have a little bit of less pain in the foot, honestly. That's the true. But physically I feel more or less okay.

Nadal was not surprised that he felt some pain. He expected it.

“Of course, you need matches like this to be fitter after a month without competing,” he said. “But that's part of the process, and I know the process. I went through all this stuff many times on my career. So it's something I am not worried about.

“So is about winning these kind of matches. That helps you to be better. Then, if I'm able to improve with my foot, I think the rest of the things going to come step by step.”

The Spaniard will be back on court on Thursday evening at the Citi Open, facing No.14 seed Lloyd Harris. He seems 100 percent ready to take on the challenge.

Rest is not on his daily plan anymore, but the Spaniard will have to closely monitor the foot, with the US Open now less than four weeks away.

“I have been resting enough,” he said. “Maybe is not about resting. But is the moment to just keep going, no? Is the moment to not practice much because I played a three hours' match, so I need to be ready for tomorrow. Have a short warmup tomorrow, try to be ready for the match. I going to have a tough opponent in front.

“Let's see. Tomorrow another day, another opportunity to play in front of this amazing crowd. I want to enjoy the experience again.”


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