CINCINNATI— Rafael Nadal won the Cincinnati Masters tennis championships for the first time on Sunday, his ninth title of 2013 lifting him to number two in the world and stamping him a US Open favourite.
The fourth-seeded Spaniard, whose season didn’t start until February when he returned from a seven-month injury absence, proved again the eight-time French Open champion is back in peak form after his shock first round exit at Wimbledon.
He beat unseeded American John Isner 7-6 (10/8), 7-6 (7/3) to add the Cincinnati crown to the Montreal Masters title he won a week before, his first ever back-to-back hard-court trophies.
Nadal said that winning back-to-back Masters 1000 titles was uniquely demanding.
“We play from the first round against the best players in the world. In other tournaments, you can have good draws, here you cannot. Winning back to back tournaments is difficult because the courts are not exactly the same, the weather conditions are not exactly the same.
“You test your body and your tennis to the limit. You need to be 100% focused during the two weeks and playing every day.”
However, Nadal wasn’t ready to say his two wins in as many weeks was a sign of things to come at the US Open, the last Grand Slam of the season that starts a week from Monday on the hard-courts of Flushing Meadows.