ATP Melbourne: Rafael Nadal downs Maxime Cressy for title no. 89

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ATP Melbourne: Rafael Nadal downs Maxime Cressy for title no. 89

The 20-time Major champion Rafael Nadal made a winning start of the new season after not competing for five months. Rafa used a favorable ATP 250 Melbourne draw to secure his 89th ATP title and extend his streak of at least one ATP crown to 19 consecutive seasons!

In the title clash, Nadal defeated the first-time ATP finalist Maxime Cressy 7-6, 6-3, fending off a set point in the opener and delivering two breaks in set number two against a serve & volley player to lift the first ATP trophy since Rome last year!

Nadal did not play at his best this week, but that was expected after a long break from tennis, hoping for a stronger run at the Australian Open that starts on January 17. Rafa lost only five points behind the initial shot in the opener and pushed the rival to the limits in two different games.

Rafael Nadal defeated Maxime Cressy in straight sets in Melbourne.

Cressy fended off five break points to stay in touch and reach a tie break, where he wasted a set point and lost it 8-6. The first-time ATP finalist defended three break points in the encounter's opening game with booming serves and fired another service winner to get his name on the scoreboard and avoid an early setback.

The Spaniard secured the second game with a service winner and landed a beautiful backhand crosscourt winner in game four to lock the result at 2-2. Maxime saved two break chances in game seven to remain on the positive side and brought the game home with an unreturned serve for 4-3.

Both players served well in the rest of the set to introduce a tie break in just under an hour. Rafa moved 3-0 in front before Maxime erased the deficit and made it a competitive one. Nadal hit a double fault at 5-5 and saved a set point after forcing Cressy's volley mistake at the net.

The Spaniard secured the second mini-break with a forehand down the line winner at 6-6 and closed the set with a service winner after 70 minutes! The American broke at 15 at 1-1 in the second set, only to suffer a break in the next one following Nadal's return winner.

Rafa served well in games seven and nine and grabbed a crucial break at 4-3 to forge the advantage. Serving for the victory at 5-3, the Spaniard held at 15 to earn the 89th ATP title and make a winning return after an extended break.