Nadal fights fatigue and blisters to beat Coria in five-hour epic

It started in brilliant sunshine and finished under floodlights. And after five hours 14 minutes ­ the longest match ever recorded in the Eternal City ­ the 18-year-old Rafael Nadal won his second consecutive Masters Series title.

It started in brilliant sunshine and finished under floodlights. And after five hours 14 minutes ­ the longest match ever recorded in the Eternal City ­ the 18-year-old Rafael Nadal won his second consecutive Masters Series title.

The Spaniard repeated his Monte Carlo Masters victory against Guillermo Coria of Argentina, this time securing a fifth-set tie-break, 8-6, on his fourth match point to triumph, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6.

Nadal has won 17 matches in 27 days since losing to Igor Andreev, of Russia, in Valencia. Nadal has been drawn to play Andreev in the first round of this week's Hamburg Masters, but the meeting is unlikely to take place. "I will see how I feel tomorrow," Nadal said.

A blistered index finger of his racket hand would be enough to persuade Nadal's advisers to announce his withdrawal, even if he had the physical and mental strength to walk on the German court.

Enough is enough, particularly as Nadal is due to play his first French Open ­ and as one of the favourites ­ a fortnight today. After defeating his compatriot David Ferrer in a hard-hitting semi-final on Saturday, Nadal said he was physically and mentally tired from playing too many matches. How he managed to hold body and soul together to prevail in yesterday's epic, only he can tell.

When Nadal edged the opening set, it was hard to tell if he would be able to sustain the effort. His intelligent use of a variety of shots, offering Coria less all-out pace on which to feed, was working. None the less, Coria's speed and court craft enabled him to work his way into the match. As ever, he made excellent use of the drop-shot.

Nadal squeezed a two sets to one lead. He won the opening four games of the third set, only to be broken serving for the set at 5-2. In the ninth game, Coria saved six set points and battled through 11 deuces before hitting a forehand long on the seventh set point.

The Spaniard had his left hand retaped after slipping 2-0 down in the fourth set. He recovered to 2-2 before immediately being broken, and although he had a break point with Coria serving at 5-4, the Argentine converted his second set point, Nadal missing a backhand.

The final set was a classic. After losing the opening three games, Nadal recovered to 3-3, and had his first match point with Coria serving at 6-5 down. The Argentine's forehand saved him. Nadal took a 5-1 lead in the tie-break, only to concede two mini-breaks serving for the match at
5-2. He missed a forehand on his second match point, at 6-4, and double-faulted on the third before Coria hit a volley long on the fourth.

Coria went into the final with a rebuke from the 35-year-old Andre Agassi, whom he defeated on Saturday, 7-5, 7-6. Agassi accused Coria of "unacceptable behaviour" over a disputed call in the opening set. "He shook his finger before the ball bounced, then he circled [the mark] as if it was obviously out, and starts walking back," Agassi complained.

"I understand making a mistake but I don't understand suggesting, when it's that close, that it's clearly out. It was an unreasonable response and one I didn't appreciate at all."

The crowd jeered Coria, who said afterwards: "It's normal, because he is very famous here and many people are his fans." Happily, yesterday's contest was free of controversy, and all about great endeavour.

In Berlin, the former world No 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne took her third successive clay court title with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 victory over the sixth seed Nadia Petrova at the German Open yesterday.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
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.

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine