Monday, 20 November, 2017

Rafa Nadal Matches Novak Djokovic Record with Madrid Open Win

TENNIS-ATP-MADRID-OPEN Murray has struggled for form since returning from an elbow injury
Rita Gibson | 16 May, 2017, 13:04

Nadal ended his seven-match winless streak against Novak Djokovic with a 6-2, 6-4 win that put him in the Madrid Open final again on Saturday.

Rafael Nadal masters Madrid.

Nadal, a four-time Madrid champion, improved to 14-0 on clay this season and reached the final of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event for the seventh time in nine years.

Nadal is now tied with Novak Djokovic for the most Masters titles and will have the chance to set a new record next week.

The left-hander hardly could have asked for a better week in Madrid.

The disappointing straight-set loss to Nadal was his fifth defeat this year.

On the women's side, Simona Halep of Romania won her second straight Madrid title by defeating Kristina Mladenovic of France 7-5, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2 in almost three hours, becoming the first player to successfully defend the title since Serena Williams in 2013. The Spaniard backed up the strong performance with another championship on Sunday.

And with Stan Wawrinka sans any wins under his belt, and Goffin and Dominic Thiem the only others to make any sort of mark in the clay court season so far, is it now time for Djokovic to turn his season around and stop Rafael Nadal from sweeping the silverware on the dirt? I did well in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, and also here.

Rohit Sharma returns in India's Champions Trophy squad
Meanwhile, Shami, despite being hampered by injuries, has taken 87 wickets in 47 match, at an average of 24.80 and economy 5.54. Rohit, Shami come back; No surprises in Indian team for Champions Trophy for 15 members squad held in England from June 1.

"Anything could have happened at the end of the first set, but I think I played well the important points at the end", Nadal said.

Nadal comes to the final with a series of 14 straight wins, in which only 2 assists lost to opponents.

Thiem, now seventh on the rankings, struck the first blow by breaking Nadal's serve to move into a 3-1 first set lead. It was Nadal's second victory over Thiem in as many events. And with the Austrian feet behind the baseline after consecutive backhands, Nadal would tap a drop shot victor inside the service box. "To play here and win here means a lot to me".

Nadal held his serve to love in the ensuing game to move ahead at 6-5, and Thiem drove on to the tiebreak despite his opponent's best efforts to avoid any need with a last-ditch break attempt.

The young gun built a promising foundation in Sunday's final and forced Nadal to a tiebreak in the first set before losing stamina in the second and struggling to keep pace with the king of clay from that point on.

Murray won his only title of the year in Dubai and had started the clay season trying to regain his form following a right elbow injury that kept him out of the Miami Open and the Davis Cup quarterfinals.

Indeed Djokovic could only muster four points in the opening four games as Nadal raced into a 4-0 lead.

Also, John Isner defeated 14th-seeded Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-1.

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