'Rafael Nadal is the clear choice because...', says ATP star

“Rafael Nadal is the clear choice because…” says ATP star

In 2005, Rafael Nadal became a Major and Masters 1000 champion, winning 11 titles and beating everyone on the ATP rankings except Roger Federer. In 2006 and 2007, Nadal remained the tour’s second-strongest link, improving his game off the clay and reaching two Wimbledon finals.

Ready to challenge Roger for the ATP throne, Nadal got off to a solid start to the 2008 season and blew up when it was Sand’s turn. Between Monte Carlo and Toronto, the Spaniard won seven titles from eight tournaments, including two Majors and three Masters 1000, bringing him closer than ever to Roger Federer.

Two weeks after that epic Wimbledon final, Rafa entered the Canadian Open campaign, aiming for his first title at the event since 2005. The Spaniard beat Jesse Levine, Igor Andreev, Richard Gasquet and Andy Murray to reach the final with great chances to clinch the title.

Two years before retiring, Nicolas Kiefer advanced to his first Masters 1000 title fight after defeating Mardy Fish, Mikhail Youzhny, Nikolay Davydenko, James Blake and Gilles Simon. The German fought Simon for three hours in the semifinals.

He didn’t have much left in the tank for a fit Nadal who beat him 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and a half. Rafa dropped 14 points in eight service games, missing the three break chances he had to put pressure on opponents. Kiefer barely lost a point on the first serve but only served 47% to spoil his chances.

He struggled on the second serve and was broken four times from as many chances provided by Nadal. The Spaniard controlled his shots well and had a huge advantage in the longer exchanges. He grabbed 19 of 22 to earn the win and move ahead of Pete Sampras, who went on to win 11 Masters 1000 titles.

Nadal grabbed a break from 15 in the first game at 2-2 and held it with ease to confirm the lead and build a good rhythm. The youngster finished game eight with an ace and then picked up four straight points on the return in the next to win the first set 6-3.

Rafa Nadal didn’t shine on Cincy

American teenager Ben Shelton is the latest player to open up about his admiration for Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. “I definitely looked up to Federer. Nadal is the clear choice because I’m also a left-hander.

I liked Fed’s elegance, the aura around him and the way he behaves on the pitch in winning and losing,” he said. “He was something of a good role model on the pitch, off the pitch how he dealt with the press just a class. I definitely enjoyed watching him play tennis growing up,” he added.

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