Rafael Nadal won his second clay title in two weeks, this time he was the best in Barcelona, and after this success, Spaniard eyes 10th career Roland Garros title!
Rafael Nadal fell from grace in the last two years. Novak Djokovic started dominating again, he is now even leading in head to head matches in the biggest tennis rivalry of all time, but Novak Djokovic wasn’t the only problem Rafael Nadal had in the past period. He failed to defeat most of the opponents ranked in the top ten, while several players outside the top ten, such as Fabio Fognini, also defeated him from time to time.
Apart from Australian Open, when he was eliminated in the first round by the hands of his compatriot Fernando Verdasco, Nadal had a solid year until clay court season. Better than 2015, but still way beyond his best years. Most of the analysts agreed that Rafael Nadal is well past his prime, so that it would be a great surprise if he won another Grand Slam title. However, in the last two weeks, Nadal did something which many thought he wouldn’t do ever again – he won two titles in two straight weeks.
Firstly, Nadal won the Masters title in Monte Carlo, which is probably his favorite tournament after Roland Garros, where he enjoyed so much success in the past ten years, and then he won the title in Barcelona, on his home soil.
In both tournaments, Nadal clearly improved his game and moved towards his previous dominance. In Barcelona, Nadal didn’t drop a single set and in the finals he defeated Nishikori, who won two straight titles in this tournament, by 6:4, 7:5. This match really brought some fond memories to his fans, since he won it in the style he played when journalists and fans alike first dubbed him “the king of clay”. Nadal played the best in the most important points, saving break points with characteristic passing shots and forehands, while he battled hard to defend his position in rallies against attack-minded Nishikori. It was a tough battle, but in the end, it was clear that Rafael Nadal would prevail, as he fed off Nishikori’s forced and unforced errors in the most important points.
So, the match was similar to many big matches Nadal played in the past, when it seemed that he was lost, but he kept fighting back and in the end managed to find his way to the triumph.
After these successes, Nadal will surely eye the Roland Garros title and try to stop Novak Djokovic from acquiring all four Grand Slam titles. Will he be able to do that? Only time will tell.