In the biggest surprise on a wild day in Miami, Rafael Nadal retired while trailing in the third set of his second round match against Bosnian Damir Dzuhmur. Nadal won the first set, but start feelings the effects of the extreme heat in Miami and was forced to retire while Dzuhmur was leading 4-6, 6-2, 3-0.
Relentless Nadal Claims Opening Set
Nadal got off to a lightning-fast start, holding to love in his opening service game and quickly grabbing a 0-40 lead in Dzumhur’s opening service game. The Spaniard nearly had the 2-0 lead, without having dropped a point, but the Bosnian finally got on the board when Nadal committed an error. Dzumhur would save all three break points to for a deuce. In the ensuing series of deuces, he would miss a pair of game points, while Nadal stood at break point six times. But the Bosnian stood up to the former world number one saving all of them, nine in total in the game, before holding to claim the 16-minute game.
The fifth seed did not let the disappointment of failing to break get him down, and brought up two more break points at 15-40 in Dzumhur’s next service game. This time, Nadal did not have to hit a single ball to break, as the 23-year-old double faulted to gift Nadal the 3-1 lead. The next three games went with serve until 5-2, when Nadal brought up a set point on Dzumhur’s serve. The Bosnian saved it, but the Spaniard soon had a second and this time was gifted with a double fault to wrap up the opening set.
Dzumhur Takes Advantage of Poor Play from Nadal
During the changeover between sets, Dzumhur was examined by the trainer, but continued on in the match. The Bosnian showed no ill effects to start the second set, and actually reached break point for the first time in the match at 1-1. Nadal was struggling to control his ground strokes and gifted his opponent the break when his forehand landed nowhere near the court. Suddenly, Dzumhur was leading up a break at 2-1.
The Spaniard was seriously struggling to control his forehand, but got lucky at 3-4 when Dzumhur had a terrible game and Nadal managed to break back. The Bosnian was growing frustrated with the umpire as Dzumhur was continually challenging calls against him that ended up being overruled.
Instead of losing his cool after the break, the Bosnian rallied and took advantage of more bad hitting from his fifth seeded opponent and broke once again. He was punishing Nadal for his poor play and easily held serve to love to claim the second set and force a decider.
Illness Forces Nadal to Retire
This time, it was Nadal calling for the trainer between sets. There did not seem to be any question of his continuing to play as the set began, but the Spaniard had a nightmare start, blowing a 40-0 lead and double faulting at AD-Out to give Dzumhur the early break lead.
Dzumhur quickly held for 2-0, after which Nadal called a medical timeout. He was immediately asked by the umpire if he could continue, to which he replied yes. The trainer talked with Nadal and took his blood pressure before the Spaniard decided he was able to continue.
However, it was immediately clear that Nadal was not in any shape to continue playing. He continued to struggle with movement or keeping the ball in the court and was quickly broken for 3-0 Dzumhur. After the Bosnian took a 30-15 lead in the following game, Nadal pulled off his headband and called it a day, retiring due to dizziness.
Nadal explained the retirement after the match. “Everything was fine until the end of the first set. Then I started to feel dizzy, not very good. It was getting worse and worse. Finally, in the second set, I realised that I could not keep playing. I wanted to finish the match, but I seriously could not. It was tough, because I felt I was playing well. I had good practices after a great week in Indian Wells. I stopped because I was concerned for my health, and I could not finish the match the way I was feeling.” (courtesy of ATP World Tour.)
Dzumhur will take on Mikhail Kukushkin in the third round.