Rafael Nadal’s first match since pulling out of the Wimbledon semifinals through injury ended with a loss to Croatia’s Borna Coric at the Cincinnati Open.
The 36-year-old Spaniard lost 7-6 (9-7) 4-6, 6-3 to the world number 152.
Nadal has been recovering from an abdominal muscle injury for six weeks and the loss in the round of 16 match is a blow to his preparations for the US Open.
The final Grand Slam event of the year begins on August 29.
“In terms of New York, it’s a Grand Slam, a different kind of tournament,” said Nadal, who has won the US Open in 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2019.
“I have only been able to play two sets before this match in the last 40 days.
“I know to gain status. I’ll have to be on tour practicing with the guys.”
American Taylor Fritz, whom Nadal beat in the Wimbledon quarter-finals, defeated Australia’s Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 6-2 to reach the third round.
Fritz then criticized the ATP Tour’s off-court coaching trial, saying that allowing players to receive instructions during a match goes against the idea of tennis being an individual sport.
“It’s a silly rule,” said the world No.13.
“Why don’t we make it an individual sport? A big part of tennis is both mental and physical, and a big part of it is that you have to figure that out on the court for yourself.
“I think it’s ridiculous that you can be mentally not there, not good analytically, not good at working through things and coming up with strategies, and you can have someone tell you what to do. I hate it.”
Fritz will next play sixth seed Andrey Rublev after the Russian beat Italy’s Fabio Fognini 6-7 (7-9) 7-6 (7-3) 6-2.
Greek fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas won 6-3 6-4 against Serbian Filip Krajinovic, while Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz lost to American John Isner 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 ( 7-5) 6-2.
Elsewhere, Canada’s seventh seed Felix Auger-Aliassime defeated Australia’s Alex de Minaur 6-3 6-2 and compatriot Denis Shapovalov fought back to win 3-6 6-4 6- 3 against American Tommy Paul.
Shapovalov will next face world number one Daniil Medvedev, while Auger-Aliassime will face Italy’s Jannik Sinner.