ThrowbackTimes Madrid: Rafael Nadal tops Nicolas Almagro after a slow start

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ThrowbackTimes Madrid: Rafael Nadal tops Nicolas Almagro after a slow start

A year after losing the title match to Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal was back in the Madrid Open final following a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 triumph over Nicolas Almagro. Nadal defeated Monfils on the previous day in straight sets, and Almagro proved to be a much more formidable opponent.

The older Spaniard took the opener before Rafa bounced back to score the sixth triumph over the compatriot and move closer to winning all three Masters 1000 titles on clay in the same season. Both players struggled on the second serve, and it wasn't easy to find the rhythm, with more unforced errors than winners on their tallies.

Rafa got broken thrice from six opportunities offered to Nicolas, seizing six from 12 chances on the return to control the pace in sets two and three and remain on the title course. Nadal had a similar number of winners and unforced errors, forcing over 30 mistakes from Almagro and overcoming the opponent in the mid-range exchanges to forge the victory after an early scare.

Nicolas was there to challenge Rafa in the shortest and most extended rallies, but that wasn't enough to cross the finish line first, losing steam in sets two and three and finishing his best Masters 1000 run in the semi-final.

Nadal sprayed a backhand error in the first game to suffer a break at 15, pulling it back in the next one with a forehand winner at the net to level the score at 1-1. Firing from all cylinders, Nicolas grabbed a break at love in game three and landed a forehand down the line winner in the next one to open a 3-1 gap, followed by a similar shot that earned another break and pushed him further ahead.

Rafael Nadal came from a set down to beat Nicolas Almagro in Madrid 2010.

Rafa pulled one break back in game six to stay in touch before Almagro blasted another powerful forehand for a hold at love in game eight for a 5-3 advantage.

Serving for the set in the tenth game, Nicolas fended off two break chances with brave hitting and forced a mistake from the four-time Roland Garros champion to close the opener in 50 minutes. In the second set's third game, Nadal repelled two break opportunities with winners and brought the game home following Almagro's backhand error to avoid a set and a break deficit.

With the momentum on his side, Rafa grabbed a break in the next game and confirmed it with a hold at 15 to gain a 4-1 advantage, looking much better on the court than 25 minutes ago. An incredible defense earned another break for Rafa at 5-2, and he wrapped up the set in the strongest way, hoping for more of the same in the decider.

Almagro lost the power in his forehand that he had in the opening set, making too many errors and not following Nadal's pace. Nicolas' massive forehand mistake cost him a break in the decider's second game before Nadal placed a forehand winner to forge a 3-0 advantage and move closer to the finish line.

Pushing strong on the return, Rafa missed his chances in games four and six, but that couldn't halt his progress, hitting a forehand winner at 4-2 for a hold at love and moving over the top with another break in game eight for the place in the 24th Masters 1000 final at 23!