In a stunning turn of events at the Mutua Madrid Open, Kei Nishikori went from dominating the defending champion Rafael Nadal, to struggling to serve or even walk, and finally throwing in the towel in the third set. Nadal was rather gifted over the title, 2-6, 6-4, 3-0 Ret.
Nishikori, who will become the first Japanese man ever in the men’s Top 10 when the rankings come out tomorrow, had a game plan against the world No. 1, and he was executing it for a full set and a half. Nadal, for his part, was helping his opponent’s cause with a rash of uncharacteristic errors. After having won the first set, and up a break in the second, before serving at 4-2 up, Nishikori called for the trainer. He’d been seen by the trainer for his back in the long semifinal yesterday against Ferrer. After that, he clearly struggled on serve and was broken by Nadal to even the set at 4-4. Nadal won the second, but Nishikori was clearly not the player he had been, and in the third set, he could hardly move, and had to concede the match. The win is Nadal’s fourth in Madrid, and third since it has been contested on clay.
Cover Photo (Creative Commons License): Marianne Bevis