Mon, May 13, 2013 - Page 19 News List

Nadal relishes Madrid final

AFP, MADRID

Spectators hold placards reading: ‘I am Rafa,’ during the men’s singles semi-final match between Rafael Nadal and Pablo Andujar at the Madrid Masters on Saturday.

Photo: Reuters

Rafael Nadal described reaching the final of the Madrid Masters as a “dream” after he stormed into his seventh consecutive final since returning from a seven-month injury layoff with 6-0, 6-4 win over compatriot Pablo Andujar.

The Spaniard was set to play Stanislas Wawrinka in the final yesterday after the Swiss beat sixth seed Tomas Berdych 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in Saturday’s other semi-final.

“To be able to return to a final here at home, in Madrid is a dream,” he said. “I am very happy and thankful for what I have been able to complete during this season.”

“To be in the final of this Masters gives me a special excitement, now all that is left to do is wait for the final tomorrow [Sunday],” he added.

World No. 113 Andujar was blown away in the opening set, winning just nine points, as Nadal broke three times to take it 6-0 and the 11-time Grand Slam champion said he was happy with the aggression he showed early on.

“I played very aggressively in the first set. In the second Pablo began to play at a better level and more aggressively. I want to congratulate him for his tournament, because this will serve him well for the future,” he said.

Andujar had progressed to his first ever Masters series semi-final and he believes Nadal is in even better than in their only previous meeting at the French Open in 2011 when the seven-time champion at Roland Garros progressed in straight sets.

“I think that Rafa played better. He committed very few unforced errors. In the first set he was very aggressive, and I was a little bit nervous,” Andujar said.

“But I remember that match where in the first set I was also nervous and Rafa committed a few more errors. I was able to step in a little bit more in the court. In this case, Rafa was much more superior than me in the first set,” he added.

Victory extended Nadal’s incredible run to 31-2 since returning from the tendinitis problem in his knee. And he was touted as a huge favorite against Wawrinka, against whom the Spaniard had an 8-0 lifetime record.

However, Wawrinka, who is set to return to the world’s top 10 this week for the first time in five years, went in yesterday’s final on a nine-match winning streak, having won his seventh ATP at the Portugal Open.

The Lausanne native was set to contest his second Masters final, after finishing runner-up to Novak Djokovic in the 2008 Rome Masters.

Berdych, who knocked out world No. 3 Andy Murray in the quarter-finals, was bidding to reach the Madrid final for the second year in a row, having finished runner-up last year to Roger Federer.

The world’s two top-ranked players — Djokovic and Federer — were both beaten early at the Madrid Masters.

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