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Rafael Nadal Retains Madrid Title As Nikshori Retires

Rafael Nadal Retains Madrid Title As Nikshori Retires

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal captured his 27th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title on Sunday as he fought back from a set and a break down against Kei Nishikori to win the Mutua Madrid Open final. The Spaniard had turned the match around to lead 2-6, 6-4, 3-0 when Nishikori was forced to retire with a back injury.

The Spaniard became the first player to win four Madrid titles, adding to his victories in 2005 (d. Ljubicic), 2010 (d. Federer) and 2013 (d. Wawrinka). It is his third ATP World Tour trophy of the season, having triumphed in Doha (d. Monfils) and Rio de Janeiro (d. Dolgopolov). The left-hander leads the ATP World Tour with a 30-5 match record on the season.

"Winning at home is always more special than winning anywhere. Having the chance to play in front of your home crowd... is unforgettable for me. This city gives me a lot," said Nadal. "This is a very important victory for me."

Now with 63 tour-level titles, the 27-year-old Nadal moves to standalone sixth on the Open Era title leaderboard. One more would see him draw level with joint-fifth Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras. It was his 44th clay-court title, taking him to within two trophies of tying Guillermo Vilas’ all-time record of 46 titles.

Nadal received 1000 Emirates ATP Rankings points, which will ensure he remains at World No. 1 through the end of next week’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia. Next week will mark Nadal’s 32nd week in a row at No. 1 (since 7 Oct. 2013) and the 134th overall.

The Mallorcan was presented with the winner’s trophy by Queen Sofía of Spain. 

"I'm very sorry for Nishikori," Nadal added. "He's an unbelievable player that will fight to be in London [at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals]. I am sure of that. I really hope that the injury is not too bad and he will be able to compete in Roland Garros."

Nishikori was contesting his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final and saw his run of 14 successive wins come to an end. The right-hander’s result in Madrid has ensured he will become the first Japanese player to break into the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings on Monday. 

The 24-year-old Nishikori was coming off his first ATP World Tour clay-court title in Barcelona two weeks ago (l. to Giraldo), but had been troubled by a back injury in his past two matches at the Caja Magica. He had prevailed in the longest match of the tournament against David Ferrer in the semi-finals on Saturday night, lasting two hours and 56 minutes.

"There is a lot of confidence I get from this tournament by beating [Ferrer] in three sets and playing well in the final today," said Nishikori. 

"It's going to be very exciting at [Roland Garros] because I've never feel like this on clay. I'm very confident of whatever I hit going for winners. I can hit from either side - forehand or backhand - so it's a very good feeling that I have on clay right now."
 
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