Ruthless Rafa Nadal claims China Open title

Published by Bastien Thorne

Rafael Nadal claimed his sixth title of 2017 with a straight sets win over Nick Kyrgios. Photo: Getty Images
Rafael Nadal took advantage of a perturbed Nick Kyrgios to claim his sixth title of 2017 at the China Open.

Rafael Nadal has claimed his sixth title of the year at the China Open. The world No.1 took advantage of a frustrated Nick Kyrgios to claim a title he first won in 2005, with a 6-2 6-1 win in one hour 32 minutes.

In many ways, the tide of the match changed in the very first game. Kyrgios came out firing and immediately had Nadal up against the ropes. The Aussie seemed to have converted a break point when Nadal was allowed to challenge and the point ultimately replayed.

The sense of injustice in Kyrgios’ demeanour was clear, and the Australian struggled to recover from it.

That’s not to take anything away from the world No.1. Nadal went toe to toe with Kyrgios throughout the match, and won the points that mattered through a series of tightly contested games. The Spaniard’s serve was dominant, and from the baseline he quickly had the measure of Kyrgios’ many weapons.

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However, the scoreline is hardly reflective of a tough, tight match, where the first three games took almost 30 minutes alone.

After securing that first hold, Nadal had the momentum throughout that first set. He then raced away to 4-0 lead in the second – again during a series of tightly fought games.

Kyrgios dug deep and attempted to find a way back into the match, but the damage had been done. Nadal’s impeccable service games continued, the Spaniard claiming his sixth title of 2017 – and underlining his status as the world’s best player.

“I played, in my opinion, a great level of tennis tonight,” Nadal said after the match. “I think one of the best matches of the year.

“Always very tough opponent to play against. But today I think my serve worked well, and I was returning a lot of balls, putting a lot of balls inside, then taking the advantage from the baseline a little bit more often than him. I was a little bit more aggressive, and that was the key.

“I have lot of respect for Nick,” Nadal continued. “He’s one of the players with more talent on the tour. Of course, when he’s playing well, when he really wants to play, without a doubt is one of the toughest opponent to play against.”

When asked about what had happened in that first game, Kyrgios explained his position.

“The first game obviously came out firing. Had a breakpoint. Hit a backhand, pretty much had a ball on top of the net…” Kyrgios said of the disputed point in the first game.

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“I don’t know, I just got super frustrated. I just didn’t think it was fair, first game in the match, breakpoint. You set the tone early, come out, break him first game. It’s a replay of the point. It’s not really fair. Yeah, I mean, I obviously didn’t react professionally. Obviously that’s why I got a warning.”

The Australian was, however, quick to praise his opponent. “I mean, that didn’t really matter today. He played well. I played terrible. He’s in great form. He just destroyed me today.”

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