'I had a little chance to win against Rafael Nadal', says former Top 10

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'I had a little chance to win against Rafael Nadal', says former Top 10

Kei Nishikori falls into the category of players who paid the most for having found themselves in the same era as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The Big 3 have monopolized the men's circuit for over a decade and a half, in addition to having put on the bulletin board the beauty of 58 Slams overall.

The Japanese tennis player, victim of countless physical problems in recent seasons, has reached only one final in the Majors, at the US Open 2014, clearly yielding to a wild Marin Cilic. The former world number 4 gave a long interview to the official website of the ATP in recent days, in which he recalled one of the most unfortunate moments of his career.

The reference is to the final of the Masters 1000 in Madrid 2014, in which he had shown one of his best performances against clay king Rafael Nadal. To the sound of winners from the bottom line, the Japanese had moved forward by a set and a break, before a leg injury prevented him from completing the job (also forcing him to retire in the third set).

Nishikori recalls the 2014 Madrid Masters final

"I would say the 2014 Madrid final against Rafael Nadal," Kei Nishikori said. "It was good and bad. I played [some of] my best tennis. It was a great match and a great start.

I was closing my eyes, hitting everything and it was going in. After the second set, I started feeling my leg," he added. "I couldn’t move. Unfortunately, I had to retire. It was a good memory, but also sad because I had a little chance to win against Rafa."

Spanish superstar Rafael Nadal has been the brand ambassador of Babolat for a very long time. This is why the French company decided to honor him with a new series of racquets – the Pure Aero Rafa. Rafa is surely happy about his new racquet but unfortunately, he has only played one tournament with it in 2021.

This is because the Spaniard suffered a back injury that forced him out of Rotterdam and the Miami Open. Now, he has his eyes set on the European clay-court season. Out of his 86 titles, 60 have come on clay for Nadal. It is his favorite surface and he has set so many records on it.

He is looking to extend those records this year and he will start with – the Monte Carlo Masters. The World No.2 has won the event 11 times and will be seeking a 12th title in 2021. If he’s healthy, there’s nothing stopping him from doing so when the event begins on 11th April.