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Dodig Pulls Off Improbable Victory Over Nadal

Ivan Dodig rocked World No. 2 Rafael Nadal at the Rogers Cup Wednesday, ousting the two-time Montreal champion 1-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(5) in a physical three hour and nine minute clash.
The loss is Nadal’s earliest exit at an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in over three years. His last opening-round loss at a Masters 1000 tournament came in Rome in 2008, when he fell to compatriot Juan Carlos Ferrero in a second-round meeting. "I had to close the match with the 5-3 [lead] in the third set.

I had to close that match probably in the second when I was playing very well, 6-1, 3-1, playing very high level of tennis," reflected Nadal." "After that, the tennis is like this. You are winning without many problems, you have one mistake, and after the opponent starts to serve very well, playing very aggressive." Added Dodig, "I keep fighting second set even when I was down 3-1. I think I relaxed more and my serve started to work. Especially after I broke him first time, I was getting more points with my serve.

I was getting also like more relaxed during the rallies. I was going more for the shots. Was working quite good today, especially in the important points." Nadal seemed to be in command, leading 6-1, 3-1 before the Croat found a way back into the match. After edging Nadal to claim the second set tie-break, Dodig quickly fell behind in the third set, as the Spaniard opened a 3-0 lead. Though he relinquished his break of serve, Nadal broke Dodig again in the eighth game to move ahead 5-3, giving himself a chance to serve out the match.

Dodig hung tough, setting up a break point opportunity which he converted to put the set back on serve. Each would hold the rest of the way through to send the encounter into a final set tie-break. The Croat began with a mini-break but could not win both service points, and it stayed on serve. Serving at 5-5 with the finish line in sight, Dodig fired his 19th ace to reach match point, and won the subsequent point to pull off the improbable victory. Learn More About Dodig  | Dodig First-Time Winner Spotlight "On match point, I think I did it.

I make a winner. I think that was the key of this match," assessed Dodig. "I know it's very tough when you play these guys to be aggressive. Sometimes they don't allow you [to be]. But today I had some chances and I think I used them. I finished the match by myself. I didn't wait for his mistakes." Nadal had reached the final of the first five ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events to start the year, winning his record seventh straight title at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters and finishing runner-up to World No. 1 Novak Djokovic at Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Rome. 

Wednesday's defeat will see Nadal lose further ground to Djokovic in his quest to reclaim the South African Airways ATP No. 1 Ranking. He played very well, very aggressive. He didn't feel the pressure in the important moments. And at the end of the match, probably I was a little bit unlucky today," said Nadal. I felt I played enough well to win that match. But that's tennis. The only thing I can do is congratulate the opponent and keep working for Cincinnati." (written by ATP Staff at Montreal)
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