Nadal Finally Got It Right In 2015 | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Nadal Finally Got It Right In 2015

Posted: Aug 4, 2015 at 12:09 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Uzor Odigbo,  Lagos With Agency Report


It took eight months, 15 tournaments, a seven-spot drop in the rankings from No. 3 to No. 10 and three massive Grand Slam disappointments, but Rafael Nadal finally won his first decently sized tournament of the year.

So what if it was a third-tier 500 event played on clay against ordinary competition while everyone else is busy tuning up for the U.S. Open on hard courts?

Nadal avenged two previous 2015 clay losses to Fabio Fognini to win the German Tennis Championships in Hamburg (also ridiculously known as the bet-at-home Open) by a score of 7-5, 7-5. Though Nadal didn’t face a player ranked in the top 25 all week, he defeated five players ranked in the top 45. That’s not as meaningless as it sounds, as Nadal has lost this year to players ranked No. 127, No. 79 and No. 102. Maybe, just maybe, this odd excursion to Hamburg in late-July/early-August is a springboard for a fine finish to 2015?

The title helped Nadal move from No. 10 to No. 9 in the rankings, close to the No. 8 spot he’ll need to ensure he wouldn’t face a top player at the U.S. Open until the quarterfinals. With no points to defend from now through late-September, Nadal could make a charge up the rankings to get back to his once-rightful spot in the top five.

Nadal won his 67th career title with a 7-5, 7-5 victory against dangerous Italian Fabio Fognini in the final of the Hamburg Open on Sunday.

Nadal, a 14-times grand slam champion, has endured an indifferent season winning just two titles in Stuttgart and Buenos Aires prior to Sunday and dropped to No 10 in the world rankings.

World No 32 Fognini, who won the Hamburg title in 2013, was aiming for an almost unthinkable third claycourt victory against Nadal this season following successes in Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona.

Nadal, whose previous air of invincibility on clay has begun to evaporate, hit just six winners and 15 unforced errors in an evenly contested opening set.

He was, however, aided by Fognini who was broken three times in the set and blundered 34 of his own unforced errors following a series of brutal baseline rallies.

Nadal appeared to have gained the upper hand early in the second set and broke en route to a 3-1 lead but Fognini roared back with successive breaks to take a 4-3 lead.