It was one of the greatest opportunities for Japan’s No. 1 male tennis player to add another title to his list this year. Unfortunately, Kei Nishikori had to retire from his finals match against World Number 1 Rafael Nadal, after a severe back injury, handing the Spaniard his fourth Madrid Open title.
The win is Nadal’s first title in the clay-court season and is the only player to have four titles in the Spanish tournament. His current record on the Masters 1000 series is now at 27 wins. The Spain favorite was able to bounce back after bowing out at the Monte Carlo and Barcelona quarterfinals to capture the title in Madrid, in spite of an unconvincing victory. Nishikori’s attacking game plan caused difficulty for Nadal and the Japanese initially led by a set and a break. But the home crowd continued to cheer for Nadal and he eventually led the game with a 2-6, 6-4, 3-0 before Nishikori decided to pull out of the game. He already strained his back in the semifinals match against David Ferrer, which lasted for three hours, pushing him to have numerous treatment sessions to get back in the game. However, the injury seemed to be serious as the player was unable to sustain it in the finals. Close to pulling an upset, Nishikori was hit hard by a heavy forehand from Nadal, which pulled his back muscle again. The 24-year old Japanese was unable to play after that.
Despite the loss, a silver lining for Nishikori is the fact that he will soon be included in the top ten of the ATP rankings to be out this week, a first for any Japanese player. Nadal, on the other hand will head next to Italy for the Rome Masters followed by a trip to Paris for the French Open.
[via Gnomes News]