Like I wrote yesterday, I thought Nadal would win the Madrid Masters final two sets to one. He ended up doing just that. Or well, not really since Nishikori had to retire 0-3 down in the deciding set.
It didn't come as a complete shock that Nishikori had problems with injuries as is evident with his injury track record.
|Hip and Abdominal Pain||8/2014||10/2014|
And it's not the first time he's retired from a match either:
|19/2014 ATP Madrid (ESP)||Clay||Rafael Nadal||Kei Nishikori||2-6 6-4 3-0 ret.||Final|
|12/2014 ATP Miami (USA)||Hard||Novak Djokovic||Kei Nishikori||0-0 ret.||1/2|
|8/2014 ATP Delray Beach (USA)||Hard||Teimuraz Gabashvili||Kei Nishikori||4-2 ret.||Second|
|9/2013 ATP Delray Beach (USA)||Hard||Ivo Karlovic||Kei Nishikori||5-4 ret.||First|
|1/2013 ATP Brisbane (AUS)||Hard||Andy Murray||Kei Nishikori||6-4 2-0 ret.||1/2|
|44/2012 ATP Paris (FRA)||I_Hard||Gilles Simon||Kei Nishikori||w/o||Third|
|17/2012 ATP Barcelona (ESP)||Clay||Fernando Verdasco||Kei Nishikori||4-2 ret.||1/4|
|35/2011 ATP U.S. Open (USA)||Hard||Flavio Cipolla||Kei Nishikori||6-4 6-2 ret.||First|
|35/2010 ATP U.S. Open (USA)||Hard||Albert Montanes||Kei Nishikori||6-2 2-1 ret.||Third|
|24/2010 ATP Eastbourne (GBR)||Grass||Andrey Kuznetsov||Kei Nishikori||6-4 3-1 ret.||First|
|2/2009 ATP Auckland (NZL)||Hard||Juan Carlos Ferrero||Kei Nishikori||5-3 ret.||First|
|26/2008 ATP Wimbledon (GBR)||Grass||Marc Gicquel||Kei Nishikori||4-6 7-5 ret.||First|
|25/2008 ATP Nottingham (GBR)||Grass||Thomas Johansson||Kei Nishikori||7-5 ret.||First|
|23/2008 CH Surbiton (GBR)||Grass||Stephane Bohli||Kei Nishikori||5-1 ret.||First|
|9/2008 ATP Memphis (USA)||I_Hard||Bobby Reynolds||Kei Nishikori||6-2 3-0 ret.||Qualifying|
|3/2008 CH Miami (USA)||Clay||Adrian Menendez-Maceiras||Kei Nishikori||w/o||1/2|
|6/2007 CH Dallas (USA)||I_Hard||Michael Ryderstedt||Kei Nishikori||6-0 5-7 2-0 ret.||q-Second|
|11/2006 CH Mexico F4 (MEX)||Hard||Miguel Gallardo-Valles||Kei Nishikori||7-6(4) ret.||1/2|
And to add to that he had had treatment on his back in previous matches and did go the distance in his semi-final win against Ferrer. So that he had to retire against the world's most physically demanding opponent is not a shock or even a huge surprise…but the way he played before that was.
You see, Nishikori was up a set and a break after a blistering first set which he won 6-2 and an immediate break in the second set. He was up 4-2 in the 2nd before his back started to play havoc on his shots. Nadal broke back at 3-4 and in the end won the set 6-4 with Nishikori hardly being able to move in the end. The last three games was painful to watch and in the end Nishikori resigned and congratulated Nadal on the win.
But I can't rule out that Nishikori would probably have won if he had remained healthy as well as he was playing. On the other hand Nadal wasn't his usual self and we even saw him hit the racket at times – which is as close to smashing a racket as he'll probably get. Maybe it was due to Nishikori's brilliant play, maybe he was just off his game, but he was very close to losing the match.
In the end we lift our hats to both players, Nadal for always staying in the match and fighting like an animal and Nishikori for his brilliant talent and for 2014 being his breakthrough year where he's so far only lost five matches.
Let's go to Rome!