Match Report

Goffin Stuns Nadal, But Spaniards Clinch With Doubles

By Jonathon Braden
Updated , First
Published

Match Report

Goffin Stuns Nadal, But Spaniards Clinch With Doubles

By Jonathon Braden
Updated , First
Published

Editor's Note: This report was updated to reflect Spain's victory in the tie. Learn more about how it happened.

David Goffin handed World No. 1 Rafael Nadal his first loss of the ATP Cup on Friday night. The World No. 11 beat Nadal for only the second time in their six-match head-to-head series 6-4, 7-6(3), swinging freely and taking the ball early to stay on the attack against the Spaniard.

But Nadal returned to Ken Rosewall Arena for the deciding doubles match, partnering Pablo Carreno Busta past Belgians Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen 6-7(7), 7-5, 10-7, to send Spain to the semi-finals, where they will face Australia Saturday evening.

Highlights: Goffin Stuns Nadal


“I have to take the ball early to use the power of Rafa to play fast, to make him run a lot,” Goffin said. “Rafa today couldn't play like two or three forehand in a row and make me run. Because as soon as he has time, he dictates. Even with the forehand or backhand, I'm dead. Because if I run, I'm dead against him.”

The Belgian saved his best for the tie-break as he held serve throughout, and Nadal dropped two points on serve, including at 2/5 when he double faulted to give Goffin four match points.

It's only the second time the Spaniard has lost in singles while playing for Spain (excluding Olympics). Nadal had won 32 straight until Friday (32-2).

Nadal went 3-0 in Group B play in Perth before heading to Sydney for the Final Eight, but his wins weren't without their challenges as Japan's No. 1 singles player Yoshihito Nishioka pushed Nadal in two tight sets on Wednesday. After that, despite the tie victory being secured, Nadal opted for more match time and won his lone ATP Cup doubles match with Carreno Busta.

But Goffin had an aggressive mentality and stuck with it. He broke in the opener at 4-4 and closed it out with a service return winner. The Belgian's all-out play on return and in rallies troubled Nadal as Goffin brought a strike-first mentality and played with nothing to lose, despite needing to win to keep Belgium's ATP Cup run alive.

“I had to hold my nerve for a long time, which wasn't easy. At the end I am so happy for Belgium that we get to play a decisive doubles,” Goffin said.

“I knew against Rafa I had to take the ball early and take more risk. I was in the court trying to dictate and he had to find a solution. I knew I had to stick to that line and move forward and that's what I did.”

In the second set, the Belgian No. 1 broke to start but Nadal broke back at 3-4, feeding Goffin with loopy, heavy-topspin balls that nudged the Belgian behind the baseline and neutralised his court positioning. Yet Goffin steadied himself to force a tie-break and remained courageous.

Roberto Bautista Agut gave Spain a 1-0 lead when he improved to 4-0 at the ATP Cup to start the tie. Bautista Agut, the highest-ranked No. 2 singles player in the tournament (No. 10), beat Belgium's Kimmer Coppejans, who replaced Steve Darcis.

Highlights: Bautista Agut Claims First Point For Spain

Bautista Agut broke four times and won 67 per cent (10/15) of his second-serve return points.

“I like to play with my teammates. It's great to play with your country. Every match you play with your country, the crowd is special. The crowd is in the match, and it's very nice to play these kind of matches,” Bautista Agut said.