Rafael Nadal claimed the fifth consecutive Roland Garros crown in 2014, making one last push towards a Major title in the tenth successive season before experiencing a massive setback due to injuries. Nadal couldn't finish the season as he planned, withdrawing from the ATP Finals and hoping for a better start of 2015.
Instead of that, the Spaniard lost to world no. 127 Michael Berrer in Doha and Tomas Berdych in the quarter-final at the Australian Open, struggling on his beloved clay and dropping out from the top-5 after Madrid. Unable to compete against the rivals from the top, Rafa experienced his second and last loss at Roland Garros.
Novak Djokovic halted him in the quarters, sending Nadal further down through the rankings in what had been his darkest period in the previous decade. With no other option, Rafa entered the ATP 250 event in Stuttgart (the first edition on grass) as world no.
10, struggling to find his best form but ousting Marcos Baghdatis and Bernard Tomic to reach the semis. There, Nadal fended off all four break chances against Gael Monfils, breaking the Frenchman once in each set to advance into the third ATP final of the season.
Fighting for his first ATP title on grass since Wimbledon 2010, Nadal toppled Viktor Troicki 7-6, 6-3 in an hour and 27 minutes, earning the 66th ATP crown and the second of 2015 after Buenos Aires.
Serving at 75%, Rafa fired 11 aces and dropped 14 points in 11 service games, repelling the only break chance he faced and mounting the pressure on the other side of the net.
The Serb played on a high level as well, barely losing a point after landing the first serve in and getting broken only once in set number two that propelled Nadal over the top. They both had more winners than unforced errors and the Spaniard forced more than 30 mistakes from his opponent to make a difference.
Also, he had a small advantage in both the shortest and more extended exchanges to prevail and claim a much-needed title after a terrible clay season for his standards. Viktor made a promising start, holding at love and creating a break chance in game two, denied by a well-constructed attack from Nadal who avoided an early setback.
The Spaniard had to work hard again in the eighth game, holding after deuce and finding himself 30-0 down on serve at 4-5. Staying focused, he grabbed the next four points to prolong the set, reaching a tie break and winning it 7-3 after an ace.
Earning his only break chance in the fourth game of the second set, Rafael Nadal seized the opportunity and moved 3-1 ahead, serving for the victory at 5-3 and sealing the deal with a smash winner for his third crown in Stuttgart.