Basel - Rafael Nadal rallied from the
depths to narrowly prevent a repeat of one of his worst career losses as he
beat Lukas Rosol 1-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/4) at the Swiss Indoors on Monday.
Three years ago, the then number 69
journeyman famously upset world number two Nadal in the 2012 Wimbledon second
This time, Nadal had to make numerous
recoveries, the last from 4-2 down in the final-set tiebreaker, before finally
"I thought I was out of here,"
said Nadal after his narrow first-round escape.
"It was the first match on indoor hard-court
for me in almost a year.
"He's tough to play, he came to the
court with big confidence. He was trying to hit the ball hard on every shot.
"I had a tough time adjusting. I just
tried to survive the second set and wait for my opportunities. I'm very happy
to have survived and still be playing."
World number seven Nadal escaped a repeat
disappointment after losing in the first round here 12 years ago to countryman
Feliciano Lopez. He made a dismal start as he lost the opening set in just 23
The third seed, whose game looked a
shambles through much of the first two sets, finally came to life in the nick
of time, breaking Rosol with the Czech leading 5-4 and serving for the match.
Nadal, whose first forehand winner only
came in the first game of the second set, found a backhand winner down the line
to break for 5-5.
The former world number one and 14-time
Grand Slam winner then seized the momentum with a break in the final game on a
third match point as his nervous opponent double-faulted.
Nadal found his form, breaking Rosol for
2-0 and saving a pair of break points for a 3-0 lead.
But he lost the momentum and the set went
into a tiebreaker, which the Czech led 4-2. Nadal slowly reeled in the
potential spoiler, claiming a match point at 5-4 and finishing it off seconds
"I was only thinking about trying to
find a way to win the next point," Nadal said, adding that he has come
back a lot of times in tough situations, but this year has been different.
"I've lost matches that I was winning.
But the last few weeks have helped for building the confidence. And the crowd
support was very important for me."
Nadal has already qualified for the
eight-man World Tour Finals next month, but was carrying solid momentum from a
Beijing final and Shanghai semi-final into the European indoors swing which
ends next week at Paris Bercy.
Since his Wimbledon loss, Nadal had beaten
Rosoal twice in 2014 - including a revenge win in July at Wimbledon in the
Defending champion Roger Federer, who is
chasing a seventh title in his homeland, has reached 11 finals in Basel and has
a record of 56-9.
He opens his bid for more home success on
Tuesday when he faces Kazakh outsider Mikhail Kukushkin while compatriot and
second seed Stan Wawrinka is also in the field and plays Croatian big-server
In the first round on a quiet opening day,
Adrian Mannarino beat Serb Viktor Troicki 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/3) while Dominic
Thiem of Austria put out Dutch qualifier Robin Haase 0-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-5.