Madrid Masters: Rafael Nadal's remarkable return secures home crown for king of clay

Rafael Nadal won his fifth title this year to continue his run of good form at the Madrid Masters

Little more than three months ago an apprehensive Rafael Nadal was preparing to make his comeback after seven months out with a knee injury that had left him wondering whether he would ever play again. Yesterday the 26-year-old Spaniard continued his extraordinary return by winning the Madrid Masters, beating Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2, 6-4 in the final.

Nadal has played in seven tournaments since starting his comeback, has reached the final every time and won five titles, which is more than any other player has won on the men’s tour this year.

Despite having not played in the Australian Open or in any build-up tournaments before the year’s opening Grand Slam event, Nadal is second behind Novak Djokovic, the Melbourne champion, in the “Race for London”, which lists ranking points won this year counting towards qualification for the year-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena.

“Maybe this win is even more special given where I have come back from,” Nadal said after winning the Madrid title for a third time. “Playing in Madrid is always very exciting for me and the tournament couldn’t have worked out better.”

Nadal raced into a 4-0 lead and broke Wawrinka’s serve three times in the match. The Spaniard, who did not face a single break point, fell on his back in celebration after claiming victory at a tournament which he had threatened to boycott after last year’s event because of the controversial switch to a blue claying surface. On the traditional red clay, however, he was back to his best.

Wawrinka has been one of the form players of the year, especially on clay, but the 28-year-old Swiss was up against it from the start. Wawrinka, who had beaten Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych en route to the final, has yet to win a set in nine matches against Nadal. He said he had not been at his best physically or mentally after some gruelling matches recently.

“Even if I’m playing my best tennis and completely fresh, it’s really, really tough to beat him,” Wawrinka said afterwards. “If you’re not completely there then he’s killing you, like he did at the beginning of the match. It was tough for me. I didn’t find the way to play my game, how to be aggressive on the court. He was also dictating the points. Against him, it’s impossible.”

Having won titles in Sao Paulo, Acapulco, Indian Wells, Barcelona and Madrid, Nadal now heads for this week’s Rome Masters. The world No 5 has won six times at the Foro Italico. After that he will be aiming to win the French Open for the eighth time.

Andy Murray said yesterday that Nadal’s recent form had been no surprise. “I think his record on clay was incredible before the injury and I expected him to come back and play well,” Murray said.

“He’s still going to improve on clay, but even if he hadn’t been playing as well, on this surface he’s still a long way ahead of the rest of the pack. His consistency has been very impressive since he’s come back. It’ll be interesting to see if he can maintain that because it’s not easy.”

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
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.

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick