Rafael Nadal won his fourth Madrid Open title thanks to a 2-6, 6-4, 3-0 victory over Japan’s Kei Nishikori, who retired after suffering a groin injury on Sunday. After both men held their serve in the opening exchanges it was Nishikori who broke Nadal to stun the home crowd. The Japanese not only had the Spaniard on the run, he then held to go 3-1 up.
Nishikori displayed his early dominance when he came to the net and played a cheeky forehand slice that was comfortably out of the world number one’s reach. This was followed up by a rally win ending with a cross-court winner that Nadal was powerless to prevent and soon after it was 4-1 before Nishikori again held to all but wrap up the opening set. A 6-2 victory took just over 30 minutes to achieve.
The Japanese continued his dominance in the second as he surged to an early lead and Nadal was staring down the barrel. However the world number one fired back as he gradually began to look like his old self. At 3-4 Nadal broke to level the set, before holding and breaking again to force a deciding third set.
However there would be drama ahead of the decider as Nishikori pulled up with an old groin injury suffered earlier in the tournament. Nadal held before breaking the Japanese in a rather farcical service game. Nishikori’s discomfort was there for all to see but he was receiving no sympathy from a rampant Nadal who surged to a 3-0 lead.
Nishikori sensibly threw in the towel at that point to hand Nadal his fourth Madrid Open title. The Italian Open is next on the ATP Tour schedule followed by the year’s second Major, Roland Garros.