Rafael Nadal has fought back from a 1-6 2-4 deficit to defeat Lukas Rosol, 1-6, 7-5, 7-6, in the first round of the Swiss Indoors in Basel. Three years ago in the second round of Wimbledon, the Czech caused one of the biggest upsets in Nadal's career, defeating him in five sets. Since then, the Spaniard has won both of their encounters, but it appeared that another upset from Rosol was on the cards in Basel. Nadal had no feel of the ball or the court for a set and a half, and Rosol's heavy hitting was causing him all sorts of problems. However, the Spaniard, regarded as one of the best fighters in the sport, came back from the brink twice (once at 1-6, 2-4, and another at 0-3 in the final set tiebreak) to survive a very testing match.
Nightmare First Set For Nadal
Rosol began the first set with a love hold, hitting deeply and powerfully instantly. Nadal responded well with an ace and some nice work at the net to reciprocate, but it all went downhill from there. After another love hold from the Czech, a shank, a backhand error, and two forehand errors from Nadal gave Rosol a break of serve at 3-1. He consolidated quickly with a big serve out wide followed by a huge forehand down the line winner. Nadal opened his service game with another shank off the forehand side. Then, a backhand cross court winner from Rosol gave him an opportunity. With a forehand dumped into the net from the Spaniard, Rosol had three break points. Despite saving two of them, Nadal double faulted to send the Czech up another break, 5-1. With two rapid forehand winners and a passing shot at the net, Rosol wrapped up the first set 6-1.
It was a nightmare for the former world number one. Nadal hit just two winners, only 44% of his first serves landed in, and worst of all, he won just 30% of his second serve points.
Slipping Away For Nadal
With another huge forehand winner, Rosol gained two break points immediately on the 14 time Grand Slam champion's serve. Despite Rafa saving one with a cross court forehand, it took just one mis-hit off the Spaniard's racket for Rosol to break. With some big serving both out wide and down the 'T', the Czech consolidated for 2-0.
Nadal then captured just his second game of the match so far with a nice dropshot, holding at 30. More deep and hard hitting from Rosol allowed him to hold once again, sealing the game with a forehand down the line winner followed with an ace. 3-1. The match started to slip away from Nadal even more at this point, with Rosol having another break point as the Spaniard dumped a volley into the net. A nice recovery, however, let Rafa crawl out of the game and keep things relatively close.
The set remained on serve, but Rosol had an increased difficulty in holding his serve. Nadal displayed some good signs, beginning to work his forehand into play. After Rosol had held serve for 5-4, things started to get interesting. The Czech displayed his first signs of nerves, and shanked a forehand to take the game to 30-30. A forehand winner from Nadal forced an error from Rosol, and he captured his first break point. However, the Spaniard netted a volley and the opportunity was snatched away at deuce. Nadal kept pushing though, and with a great return and a firing forehand, he grabbed hold of another break point. Then, with a spectacular backhand down the line that glided past Rosol, the Spaniard broke serve, and with a roaring 'VAMOS!' he evened things up for the first time in the match, 5-5.
Nadal then consolidated the break with a perfect point. Some great shot selection, finished with a backhand passing shot, allowed the Spaniard to lead for the first time in the match, 6-5. Rosol then kicked off his service game with a big serve down the T, but a forehand down the line from the other end of the court and an amazing cross court return gave Rafa the first of his three set points One was saved as Nadal sent a backhand into the net. Rosol then had advantage with an unreturnable serve, but he sent a forehand long to take the game back to deuce. It couldn't get tighter. A good return from Nadal forced the Czech's groundstroke to land long, giving Rafa another set point. However, a huge forehand down the line sent the game back to deuce. This time though, Nadal took his third set point, and grabbed hold of the set 7-5 to even things out.
Dominant Start For Nadal In The Third
Nadal began the third with a perfect love hold, then a double fault from Rosol followed by some errors gave him three break points. On the second, the Spaniard took hold of a break to go up 2-0 quickly. The former world number one then faced a 0-30 hole, which quickly turned into two break points for the Czech, However, with a forehand down the line and an ace, Rafa saved both and got himself out of the game. For the first time in the match, Nadal seemed in control, and his look of frustration had turned into one of determination.
Rosol, who according to Andy Murray, everyone on the tour hates, started to rant to the umpire about Nadal taking too much time between points. It was clear that the Czech was unravelling at this point, but despite this loss of focus, both players continued to hold in the decider. Once it got to 4-2, a good forehand winner and a backhand cross court winner from Rosol gave him an opportunity. Despite Rafa saving the first break point, the Czech captured his third to break back and even things out, 3-4.
Tight End To The Decider
Rosol continued his routine of deep hitting to consolidate the break of serve, but Rafa followed suit to hold his own service game with some nice serves and better movement. 5-4. Rosol and Nadal then both held to love. Next, Rosol powered two consecutive aces down the T, but committed two unforced errors to take the game to 30-30. It started getting tight, but the Czech came through, winning a great rally from both players with a forehand winner. We were going to a final set tiebreak.
Rosol was gifted the immediate mini-break as Rafa netted a forehand, shouting with frustration. Then, another couple of unforced errors from the Spaniard sent the Czech up 3-0 in the tiebreak. It continued to go with serve until an amazing lob and volley from Nadal gave him the minibreak back. Two unforced errors from Rosol than gave Nadal match point. He fought right until the very end, and it payed off, as Nadal pulled off the comeback victory 1-6, 7-5, 7-6.
The victory displays more progress from the Spaniard, who's had a tough year. A few months ago, he wouldn't have been able to turn around that match like he did today. Next up for Nadal is Grigor Dimitrov or Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round.