Sunday, February 10, 2013

SHOCK! Nadal Loses Clay Court Final In Comeback

AP Photo/Luis Hidalgo
Rafael Nadal, playing in his first tournament in seven months (since his shocking 2nd round exit from 2012 Wimbledon at the hands of Lukas Rosol), lost the singles final of the year's first clay court tournament in Vina del Mar, Chile to 73-ranked Horacio Zeballos 6-7(2) 7-6(6) 6-4. This was only the 5th clay court final Nadal had ever lost in his career and his first ever loss to a fellow left-handed player on red clay. (Nadal lost to Fernando Verdasco on the blue clay of the Madrid Masters tournament last May.)

Zeballos's title win was the very first ATP tour championship for the 27-year-old from Argentina despite turning professional in 2003. In 2012, Zeballos did not advance past the 2nd round of any tournament he entered on the ATP tour, but in Vina del Mar he beat four seeded players in succession to claim the title: #4 seed Pablo Andujar, #5 seed Albert Ramos, #8 seed Carlos Berlocq and #1 seed Nadal. The Argentinean won on his first match point at 4-5, 0-40 in the third set.

Nadal said that he felt some pain in his troublesome left knee earlier in the week. He teamed up with his good buddy Juan "Pico" Monaco to play the doubles and reached the final, losing to Potito Starace and Paolo Lorenzi of Italy 6-2 6-4.

Nadal will continue his comeback by playing another clay court tournament, in Sao Paulo, Brazil next week.

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