World number one Rafael Nadal is now just a match away from winning his fourth Madrid Maasters title and the lone player standing on his way is Japan’s Kei Nishikori.
Nadal secured a place in the final on Saturday after ending the impressive run of fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-3 in the semifinals. Nadal is seeking a record 27th ATP Masters 1000 title. He’s aiming for a third ATP World Tour title this season following title victories in Doha and Rio de Janeiro.
“It was an important victory for me,” said Nadal. “After a great match yesterday [against Berdych], I have the confirmation today that the improvement is real. It’s very good news for me. I think for moments I played great tennis against an opponent that is playing really well and improving a lot.
“He’s a really dangerous opponent today. He’s had great victories this year. So it is an important win for me. To be in a final here in a difficult tournament at home after losing in the quarter-finals for two weeks in a row means a lot to me. So I’m very happy.”
Despite the loss, Bautista Agut has a lot to celebrate. His ranking is slated to break the top 30 for this first time.
“It’s been a beautiful week for me,” said Bautista Agut. “Perhaps I have the feeling that I could have played today’s match a little bit better. I think that if right now I had the chance to play the match again, I would face it in a different way. Perhaps I had some up and downs. I had good moments and not that good moments.
“I’m happy with what I’ve been doing recently, so I hope that the rest [of the season] will keep on going in the same vein.”