Rafael Nadal played his third match of the South American tour against Casper Ruud at the Mineirinho Arena in Belo Horizonte. Brazilian fans had the opportunity to see the best players in the world in action, and Rafa won 7-6, 7-5 in just under two hours.
In this way, the Spaniard remains perfect on the South American tour after beating Ruud in Buenos Aires and Alejandro Tabilo in Chile. Ruud led 3-0 in the opener before Nadal clawed back the break for 3-3. The rest of the set was a good service, and Rafa prevailed in the tie break 7-4.
Ruud saved one set point at 4-5 in the second set before being broken by Nadal in the 12th game to take the lead and seal the deal. Casper held serve in the first game of the match and created break chances in the next after a forehand error by Rafa.
The Norwegian took advantage of the first to take the lead, saved a break point in the next and held on after multiple deuces to make it 3-0. Rafa raised his name to the scoreboard with his serve in the fourth game and broke back to 15 in the next after a wild right hand from Casper.
The Spaniard closed the result at 3-3 and earned a break chance in the next. Nadal missed it after a weak backhand, and Ruud kept it 4-3. Rafa closed out the eighth game with a game-winning smash to make it 4-4 and hit another in the tenth game to extend the set.
Both players served well in games 11 and 12 to introduce a tie break. Nadal created a match point and Ruud double faulted and wasted it with his forehand that went wide. Casper held on and dragged out the battle, hoping to reach another tie break.
Nadal landed a forehand winner in the eleventh game to take another lead, with Ruud serving to stay in the match for the second time.
Nadal is a true champion
Rafael Nadal reckons the homogenization of surfaces has led to similar playing conditions, reducing diversity and leading to players with similar playing styles.
However, he added that claycourts still provide players to ‘think’ and construct points. Nadal said: “I would like to see tennis that offers more opportunities, more diverse styles of games. Today, because of the way it is played, the way the courts are made, the balls, most people play a very similar style because the the speed at which you play and the conditions give you very little room to put a different tactic into practice. On the clay court there is a little more time, it gives you the opportunity to think.”