When Rafael Nadal claimed first grass-court title in five years

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When Rafael Nadal claimed first grass-court title in five years

Young Rafael Nadal claimed two Stuttgart titles within three years when the event was still held on clay. Rafa returned to Stuttgart in 2015, when the event switched from July and clay to June and grass. Nadal claimed the ninth Roland Garros title in 2014 and lost the ground in the following 12 months due to injuries and a lack of form.

Nadal dropped out from the top-5 after Madrid 2015 and experienced his second Roland Garros loss a few weeks later. Novak Djokovic halted him in the quarters and sent Nadal further down through the rankings in what had been his darkest period in a career.

With no other option, Rafa entered the ATP 250 event in Stuttgart as world no. 10. He struggled to find his best form but ousted Marcos Baghdatis and Bernard Tomic to reach the semis. Nadal fended off all four break chances against Gael Monfils and broke 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 for the 66th ATP crown and the second in 2015 after Buenos Aires.

Rafael Nadal claimed his last ATP title on grass in Stuttgart 2015.

Serving at 75%, Rafa fired 11 aces and dropped 14 points in 11 service games.

He repelled the only break chance he faced and mounted the pressure on the other side. The Serb played on a high level, barely losing a point after landing the first serve in and getting broken only once in set number two, enough to propel Rafa over the top.

They both had more winners than unforced errors, and the Spaniard forced over 30 mistakes from his opponent to make a difference. Also, Rafa had a slight advantage in 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. Nadal denied it after a well-constructed attack to avoid an early setback. The Spaniard had to work hard again at 3-4, holding after deuce and finding himself 30-0 down on serve in game ten.

He stayed focused and grabbed the following four points to prolong the set. It went into a tie break, and Rafa claimed it 7-3 after an ace. Nadal earned his only break chance in the second set's fourth game and seized it to open a 3-1 gap.

The Spaniard served for the victory at 5-3 and emerged at the top with a smash winner for his third Stuttgart crown.