Rafael Nadal kicked off his South American tour with a 7-6, 6-2 win over his good friend Casper Ruud at the Arena Parque Roca in Buenos Aires. Rafa and Casper met at the ATP Finals last week and had no time to rest and embrace the holidays.
Two good friends took a plane and went to Buenos Aires for the first stop of their South American tour, setting the second clash in Chile in two days. Nadal and Ruud met twice on Tour this year, with Rafa winning 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 in the Roland Garros final and another 7-5, 7-5 at the ATP Finals.
The Spaniard overcame a slow start against the Norwegian in his first match in Buenos Aires since 2016 and dominated the second set to emerge with flying colors. Rafa served first and closed out the first game of the match with a serve and volley combo.
Casper closed out the second game with an ace down the T-line to add his name to the scoreboard. Ruud missed a routine volley at 30-30 in game three, and Nadal closed it out with an ace for 2-1. The Spaniard hit a backhand crosscourt winner in game four and earned two break points.
Casper kept his cool, fended them off and closed out the match with a service winner. Rafa had two break points in the fifth game. He saved the first with a smash winner and hit a volley on the second to trail 3-2. Nadal hit a volley winner in game six for 30-30 and fired a forehand crosscourt for a break chance.
Ruud denied it with a beautiful smash winner, saved another and brought the game home with an unreturned serve for 4-2. The Spaniard clinched game seven with a powerful crosscourt forehand and scored the first break point in game eight with a crosscourt forehand.
Rafa Nadal is a former No.1
At the end of the first stage of his South American tour of exhibition matches in Argentina, Rafael Nadal, at the stadium microphone following his two matches in singles and doubles, paid a fine tribute to the Argentinian public, still as h*t and faithful.
“It’s a unique feeling to play here. Maybe I wasn’t there as many times as I would have liked. But I will always keep in my heart that after 2005 when I first played, my career really started to take off. Having the opportunity to play with Casper, who is a great player, world number 3, a good friend and an excellent person, and also to play with Gisela and Gaby, two references in Argentine and Latin tennis for the past 20 years, pleasure. Argentinians are some of the best fans, if not the best in the world, and they know the sport very well.”