Tennis: Spain's Rafael Nadal won his 26th career ATP Masters 1000 title and 5th ATP Masters 1000 title of this year as he defeated USA's John Isner in straight sets 7-6, 7-6 in the final of Western and Southern Open ATP Masters 1000 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
American no.1 Isner was in great form and he was coming after beating world no.1 Novak Djokovic and world no.7 Juan Martin Del Potro in Quarterfinal and Semifinal respectively. Nadal had won all 3 previous encounters against his opponent but 6-foot-9 Isner had given Nadal a very tough time in their last meeting, which was in 2011 French Open, where Isner had managed to take two sets against Nadal.
Isner is one of only two players, alongwith Djokovic to take Nadal into 5 sets at French Open, a title which Nadal has won 8 times. It was expected that winning tie-breaks would be the key for both players because not many players have been able to break Isner's serve.
Although Nadal is one of the best returners of the game, but Isner did not face a single break point in the whole match. Nadal saved two break points in the first set as the set went to a tie-break. Nadal won it 10-8 to take one set lead.
Nadal had to save one break point in second set as well as second set went into tie-break as well. The Spaniard won the second set tie-break 7-3 to take second set and the match, to bag his 59th ATP title of the career and 9th ATP title of the season.
This is Nadal's first title in Cincinnati as Cincinnati was the only Masters 1000 tournament where Nadal had never reached the final and it was a trophy which was missing from Nadal's cabinet but he has now won it as well.
After the match Isner said Nadal is an incredible champion, congratulated him and wished him good luck for the season ahead. Nadal was also very happy on winning the title and he is very happy with his form as well. With this win, Nadal has also tied Djokovic's record of winning 5 Masters 1000 titles in a single season.
Djokovic had achieved the feat in 2011. Nadal has reached the finals of all the Masters 1000 tournament that he has played this year. He won Indian Wells, Rome, Madrid, Montreal and Cincinnati and lost in the final of Monte Carlo to Djokovic, where he was going for 9th title in a row.
He had skipped Miami Masters. Nadal has been undefeated on hard courts this season, winning titles in Indian Wells, Montreal and Cincinnati. This win also means that Nadal will now become world no.2, going into US Open. 27-year-old Mallorcan will surely be the favourite to win US Open as he has a record of 15 wins and 0 losses on hard courts this season.
He had also won US Open in 2010. But at US Open it will be best of five sets which will be a totally different ball game. None of the matches that Nadal has won on hard courts this season were best of five sets so it would be exciting that how Nadal copes up with that. Nadal had remained out of Tennis court for seven months last year and skipped 2 Grand Slams because of knee problems.