Rafael Nadal defended his Mutua Madrid Open title on Sunday as he defeated Japan’s Kei Nishikori to capture his fourth title at the Madrid Open. Nishikori was forced to retire in the middle of the third set due to a back injury that has plagued him in recent weeks, resulting in Nadal’s 2-6, 6-4, 3-0 victory.
Nishikori had entered this final with a 14-match winning streak and showed no signs of slowing early on. His groundstroke played a key factor as Nadal was unable to counter his Japanese opponent in the early going, with Nishikori eventually taking the set convincingly at 6-2.
Nadal started to regain form in the second, breaking Nishikori’s serve twice to even up the match and force a third-set tiebreaker. Early in the third, Nishikori was in visible pain and received treatment on his lower back during a timeout. The pain eventually became too much for the 24-year old to take and he was forced to retire from the match early.
“I'm very sorry for Nishikori," said Nadal. “He's an unbelievable player that will fight to be in London [at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals], I am sure of that. I really hope that the injury is not too bad and he will be able to compete in Roland Garros.”
The victory almost assures that the Spaniard will remain number one in the ATP Rankings as he captured his 27th overall ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title. He is now 30-5 overall on the year which is the best record on the tour, and will serve a 32nd week atop the world rankings.
He is the first player to win four titles at the Madrid tournament. “Winning at home is always more special than winning anywhere,” said Nadal. “Having the chance to play in front of your home crowd is unforgettable to be. This city gives me a lot. This is a very important victory for me.”