Cincinnati Masters: Andy Murray loses world No 2 ranking to Rafael Nadal after Spaniard beats John Isner in final

Victoria Azarenka took the women's title in the US Open warm-up event

Rafael Nadal beat American John Isner over two tie-breaks in the Western and Southern Open final and will replace Andy Murray as world number two tomorrow.

The Spaniard's 26th title at ATP Masters 1000 level, the highest tier below the grand slams, means he leapfrogs Wimbledon champion Murray ahead of this month's US Open. And Nadal also stands to be the second seed in New York even though the Scot will be defending his title.

He also equals world number one Novak Djokovic's record of five Masters 1000 titles in a season after taking a 7-6 (10/8) 7-6 (7/3) win over big-serving Isner, who fired down 11 aces to Nadal's six.

Both Murray and world number one Djokovic were eliminated in the quarter-finals in Cincinnati this week.

The first set of the final went on serve throughout. With Nadal serving at 6-5 behind, Isner opened up a 15-40 lead to set up two set points. Nadal, though, hit two successive aces to help him force a tie-break which he won 10/8 with his second set point.

There were once again no breaks in the second set and this time the tie-break was more comfortable for Nadal, who won the first two points and led all the way before taking his first match point.

Isner told atpworldtour.com: "I played extremely well all week. Thought I played well again today. Unfortunately, it just wasn't good enough.

"I'm going to hold my head up high after today's match and after this whole week. But Rafa was better than me today."

Nadal has a 53-3 win-loss record this year, including nine titles and now a career-best 15 consecutive hard-court match wins.

Nadal told the ATP website: "It means a lot. Being able to win two straight titles, two Masters 1000 on hard (courts) back to back is just amazing for me. I never did something like this in all my career.

"It was an emotional moment for so many different facts. First of all, I won a very important tournament, Masters 1000. Second thing, after all the (injury) problems that I had, it was two weeks in a row on hard playing at the highest level.

"Then the ranking is there. I was playing for a lot of points this week and I'm in a good position."

Victoria Azarenka took the women's title, coming from a set behind to beat world number one Serena Williams in a third-set tie-break for a 2-6 6-2 7-6 (8/6) victory.

Williams swept through the first set in lightning-quick time, taking both of her break points and winning 28 for 39 points in total to win 6-2.

But she trailed 4-1 in the second after a flurry of unforced errors and though she saved an incredible seven break points in the next game to avoid a third break of her serve, Azarenka held and then did break again to win the set 6-2.

The Belorusian broke for a 4-2 lead in the decider but Williams hit back straight away - and broke again to lead 5-4.

That left her serving for the match but she fell 15-40 behind after netting a forehand and was broken as Azarenka produced a superb return right to her feet.

The second seed held serve and had won eight out of the last nine points, but Williams served out to 15 to set up a tie-break.

Azarenka made the first move and opened up a 3-1 lead and restored her cushion after Williams pulled back the mini-break. From 4-2 at the change of ends, though, Azarenka fell 5-4 behind after losing successive service points.

That left Williams needing to win her two service points to take the title - but she missed a glaring opportunity on the first after opening up the court with a drop shot and then double-faulted on the second.

Azarenka sent a backhand long on championship point but set up another with a deft volley and Williams netted a forehand.

Azarenka said: "Obviously it's a big win. It was a great match. I'm really, really pleased with the way I pulled it out. It was a great battle. Nothing was given away. It was pure fight. I'm really happy."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links