2/11/13 12:07 AM | Ricky Dimon
Horacio Zeballos turns the tables in Vina del Mar on Sunday, surprising Rafael Nadal in three sets to take home the title. It is the first such triumph of Zeballos' career.
Attempting to punctuate his first event in more than seven months with a title, Rafael Nadal fell to Horacio Zeballos 6-7(2), 7-6(6), 6-4 in the final of the VTR Open on Sunday night. Zeballos was two points from defeat in the second set but stormed back to complete the stunning win after two hours and 46 minutes.
The Argentine had won 19 of his last 20 matches and he played like it throughout much of set one. Zeballos held serve at love three times, dropped a mere three points in six service games, and never lost more on the one service point in any game.
His lone flaw was tightening up on crucial points. The underdog squandered two break chances at 1-0 and a missed another deuce opportunity in the sixth game of the match. In the ensuing tiebreaker, Zeballos committed forehand errors on the first and fifth points to fall behind by two mini-breaks. He got one back for 2-5, but Nadal won two more return points–the last with a perfect backhand return to clinch the set.
Nadal showed signs of pulling away in the second, but he could not manage to do it. Vina del Mar’s No. 1 seed seized a 15-40 advantage at 2-1 with a chance to gain complete control of the match only to net a forehand on the first break point and watch an ace fly past him on the second. From there both players held comfortably en route to another tiebreaker.
Zeballos once again appeared to be in dire straights when he squandered a 6-4 lead in the ‘breaker with consecutive errors. When it mattered most at 6-6, however, the world No. 73 came up with a crushing backhand return then capitalized on his third set point with a forehand winner.
A back-and-forth thriller saw Nadal right the ship for an immediate break in the decider. Out of nowhere, though, a match that had previously featured zero breaks produced two in a row as Zeballos leveled the proceedings at 1-1. Zeballos remained on fire the rest of the way. He missed a deuce opportunity at 4-3 but quickly regrouped and emphatically won the last eight points of the match.
Zeballos held at love for 5-4 before delivering a spectacular effort on return with Nadal serving to stay in the championship. Three straight winners brought up match point, which Zeballos converted by forcing his opponent into a running forehand error.
Nadal drops to 36-5 lifetime in ATP clay-court finals and he is an amazing 210-3 in clay-court matches after winning the first set. This is Zeballos' first career ATP title in his second final.
Find the latest tennis odds at Unibet.com
Scan QR code to access Unibet mobile.
Bet on Sports wherever you are and whenever you like, with Unibet's quick and simple mobile client you can place bets, check results and see live odds.
For more info about QR codes & scanners click here.