Coric, who has been dealing with shoulder issues since May 2021, recorded an amazing 7-6(9) 4-6 6-3 win over the 22-time Grand Slam champion. Despite losing in the first round in Montreal last week, the Croat looked confident as he took it to his opponent early in the opening set.
Both men accounted for their serves in the first set, with Coric hitting an impressive seven aces. There was a lull in action as a rain-delay interrupted proceedings with Nadal up 5-4 and Coric on serve, but play resumed after a little over an hour.
With no breaks of serve, a tiebreak ensued and after wasting a set point, it was Nadal who succumbed to the pressure. The Mallorcan hit a double fault at the most crucial of moments, giving Coric the first set.
Nadal amped the aggression in the second net, attacking the net when the opportunity presented itself. This tactic paid off for the Spaniard, as he capitalized on his sole break point opportunity before closing out the second.
Andy Roddick believes Rafael Nadal would not jeopardize US Open chances by playing in Cincinnati
The raucous crowd was eager for more as both men approached the decider, but it was Coric who took advantage of some subpar play from Nadal. Although both men were equally impressive behind their first serves, it was Nadal who was unable to stop the double faults from creeping into his game. This led to Coric breaking to lead 4-2, and the 25-year old did not look back, ending proceedings with a splendid forehand winner after two hours and 52 minutes.