World no. 2 Rafael Nadal should lead the ATP 500 Rotterdam field in March, competing at this event for the first time since 2009! Rafa joins Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Gael Monfils, Roberto Bautista Agut, Stan Wawrinka, David Goffin and Jannik Sinner in the main draw, seeking only the second indoor hard title in a career.
At the beginning of 2009, world no. 1 Rafael Nadal took another big step towards tennis glory, conquering his first Australian Open title and holding three out of four Majors at 22. Taking a week off, Nadal was back in action in Rotterdam, losing in the second round a year ago and hoping for a better run.
Rafa survived stern challenges against Simone Bolelli, Grigor Dimitrov and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, spending eight and a half hours on the court in those three matches and losing energy. In the semis, the Spaniard defeated Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-4 for the first ATP indoor final since Paris 2007, facing Andy Murray in the battle for the trophy.
After an hour and 51 minutes, the Briton prevailed 6-3, 4-6, 6-0, with nothing left in the tank for Rafa in the decider. It was the tenth ATP title for the 21-year-old Briton and already the seventh on an indoor court, getting broke four times and securing seven breaks from 12 chances to topple Rafa and emerge at the top.
Thanks to that deciding set, Andy finished the encounter with more winners and fewer unforced errors. He outplayed Rafa in the shortest range up to four strokes and stood on the level terms with world no. 1 in the more extended rallies to earn the title in style.
Rafael Nadal should compete in Rotterdam in March.
Nadal wasted a break point in the third game when his backhand landed wide and sprayed another backhand slice mistake at 2-3 to suffer a break and push Andy in front. Serving at 5-3, Murray held with an ace down the T line for a hold at love, hoping for more of the same in the rest of the encounter.
Rafa received treatment on his right knee after the second set's third game and grabbed a break in the next one when Andy netted a backhand. The Briton pulled the break back a few minutes later, thanks to a deep return that Nadal failed to control.
Andy returned to the positive side of the scoreboard before the Spaniard broke again with a well-constructed attack that sent him 4-2 up. A return winner provided another break for Nadal at 4-3, but it wasn't enough to take the set at that point, getting broken in the next game to keep Murray alive.
Still, the Briton lost the ground behind the initial shot in those moments, losing serve for the third time at 4-5 to hand the set to Rafa ahead of the decider. As it turned out, that was all that Nadal had in the tank, spraying a backhand error to lose serve at the beginning of the third set at love and never looking like a real contender.
A wild forehand cost Nadal the third game and he fell 4-0 down after an ace from Andy, who soon built a 5-0 advantage after securing another break. At 30-30 in the sixth game, Murray landed two unreturned serves to seal the deal and celebrate the tenth ATP title and the second consecutive victory over Rafa after the US Open last summer.