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Ricky Picks • 10sBalls • Best Rafael “RAFA” Nadal Matches Of 2018 Tennis

Novak Djokovic of Serbia (R) at the net with Rafael Nadal of Spain whom he defeated in their semi final match during the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, in London, Britain, 14 July 2018. Novak Djokovic won the final match against Kevin Anderson of South Africa. EPA-EFE/NIC BOTHMA
Novak Djokovic of Serbia (R) at the net with Rafael Nadal of Spain whom he defeated in their semi final match during the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, in London, Britain, 14 July 2018. Novak Djokovic won the final match against Kevin Anderson of South Africa. EPA-EFE/NIC BOTHMA

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

It was another injury-plagued year for Rafael Nadal, but the Spaniard packed a big punch into a little schedule. He played hands down three of the ATP Tour’s best matches in 2018, all of which came at either Wimbledon or the U.S. Open.

 

Ricky takes a look at the season’s five most enthralling matches involving Nadal.

 

5. Rome semifinals: Nadal d. Novak Djokovic 7-6(4), 6-3

Having recently endured a disastrous March, Djokovic was starting to round into form when he faced Nadal in the Rome semis. The Serb predictably lost, but this high-quality and competitive clay-court contest set the stage of his eventual resurgence. Djokovic threw everything he had at the King of Clay especially in the first set, but Nadal was simply too good and soon seized complete control of the match.

 

4. U.S. Open third round: Nadal d. Karen Khachanov 5-7, 7-5, 7-6(7), 7-6(6)

Nadal made memorable runs at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, none of which ended in triumph but both of which produced multiple amazing matches. His third-round showdown with Khachanov at Flushing Meadows was certainly one of of those. In one of the most impressive performances of his young career, the up-and-coming Russian led by a set and a break before Nadal recovered to prevail in four hours and 23 minutes.

 

3. U.S. Open quarterfinals: Nadal d. Dominic Thiem 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7(4), 7-6(5)

Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a return to Dominic Thiem of Austria during the ninth day of the US Open Tennis Championships the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, 04 September 2018. The US Open runs from 27 August through 09 September.  EPA-EFE/BRIAN HIRSCHFELD

Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a return to Dominic Thiem of Austria during the ninth day of the US Open Tennis Championships the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, 04 September 2018. The US Open runs from 27 August through 09 September. EPA-EFE/BRIAN HIRSCHFELD

After getting past Khachanov and then beat Nikoloz Basilashvili in another tight four-setter, Nadal ran into Thiem during quarterfinal action in New York. This one somehow managed to outdo both of the top seed’s previous contests, as he and Thiem played one ridiculous point after another for four hours and 49 minutes until it ended after 2:00 a.m. The Austrian dug out out of a 0-40 hole midway through the fifth before finally going down in a dramatic tiebreaker.

 

2. Wimbledon quarterfinals: Nadal d. Juan Martin Del Potro 7-5, 6-7(7), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 

A master of managing to produce epic matches himself, Del Potro did not disappoint in this blockbuster quarterfinal battle at the All-England Club. And neither did Nadal. A back-and-forth affair lasted four hours and 47 minutes, often relegating to Del Potro to the turf with the two-time Wimbledon champion running him on a whole host of hard-to-believe points. The Argentine threw his own fair share of haymakers–just not quite enough.

 

1. Wimbledon semifinals: Novak Djokovic d. Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(9), 3-6, 10-8

Without question this is the match that shaped the overall course of the 2018 campaign. Djokovic was fully back at this point, but Nadal still maintained a stranglehold on the No. 1 ranking. The status quo would not have changed if the outcome of this one had flipper, but alas, Djokovic’s return to the top was just beginning. Of many Wimbledon marathons, Nadal-Djokovic lasted five hours and 16 minutes and required two days to be completed.

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @TennGrand.

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