Madrid Flashback: Rafael Nadal moves closer to title defense
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 3059
Caja Magica hosted the first edition of the clay-court Madrid Masters 1000 event in 2009. As was expected, Rafael Nadal was the player to beat in the first six editions. The home favorite reached five finals (he missed it in 2012 on blue clay) and sought the third title in 2014 following a 6-4, 6-3 triumph over Roberto Bautista Agut in the semis.
It was the first meeting between two Spaniards, and Nadal had to work hard to emerge at the top. He overpowered the opponent in the mid-range exchanges to seal the deal in straight sets and find himself in the title match. Bautista Agut grabbed two breaks from four opportunities, but that was not enough for at least a set despite a solid effort.
He struggled on the second serve and got broken five times from 13 chances offered to world no. 1. Rafa had more winners than unforced errors. He failed to overpower the rival in the shortest and most advanced exchanges but earned the victory in the rallies with five to eight strokes where he stood miles in front.
The defending champion clinched a break in the encounter's first game for the best start and placed a forehand down the line winner in game four to open a 3-1 gap.
Rafael Nadal ousted Roberto Bautista Agut in the 2014 Madrid Open semi-final.
Bautista Agut broke back in game six when Nadal sent a forehand long to lock the result at 3-3.
Still, he lost serve again a few minutes later after Rafa's backhand winner. Nadal opened a 5-3 gap with three winners in game eight and secured the opener with a forehand crosscourt winner in game ten for 6-4 after 51 minutes.
Like the first set, the second started with a break for a two-time winner. Nadal held at 15 in the next one to forge a 6-4, 2-0 advantage and settle into a nice rhythm. Bautista Agut sprayed a forehand mistake in the third game to find himself 3-0 down, and Nadal moved closer to the finish line after a forehand winner in the next one.
Roberto survived a challenging fifth game and fended off break chances to gain some momentum. He pulled one break back in game six when Rafa netted a backhand and brought the next one home for 3-4. With no room for further errors, Rafa held at love to gain a 5-3 lead.
He moved over the top with a forehand winner a few minutes later, securing a break and advancing into the fifth Caja Magica final in the past six years.