ThrowbackTimes Madrid: Rafael Nadal tops Roberto Bautista Agut to secure final spot

Caja Magica hosted the first edition of the Madrid Masters 1000 event on clay in 2009. As was expected, Rafael Nadal was the player to beat in the first six editions, reaching five finals (he missed it in 2012 on blue clay) and seeking the third title in 2014 following a 6-4, 6-3 triumph over Roberto Bautista Agut in the semis. It was the first meeting between two Spaniards, and Nadal had to work hard to prevail, overpowering the opponent in the mid-range exchanges to find himself in the title match. Bautista Agut grabbed two breaks from four opportunities, but that wasn’t enough for at least a set despite a solid effort, struggling on the second serve and getting broken five times from 13 chances offered to world no. 1.

Rafa had more winners than unforced errors, failing to overpower the rival in the shortest and most advanced exchanges but earning the victory in those rallies with five to eight strokes where he stood miles in front. The defending champion clinched a break in the first game for the best start and placed a forehand down the line winner in game four to open a 3-1 gap.

Rafael Nadal ousted Roberto Bautista Agut in the 2014 Madrid Open semi-final.

Bautista Agut broke back in game six when Nadal sent a forehand long, only to lose serve again a few minutes later after a backhand winner from the more experienced Spaniard. Three winners in game eight sent Rafa 5-3 up, and he secured the opener with a forehand crosscourt winner in game ten for a 6-4 after 51 minutes.

Like the first, the second set started with a break for the two-time winner, who held at 15 to forge a 6-4, 2-0 advantage. Bautista Agut sprayed a forehand mistake to find himself 3-0 down, and Nadal moved closer to the finish line after a forehand winner in the next game. Facing break chances, Roberto survived a challenging fifth game and was back in action when Nadal netted a backhand and lost serve in the game that followed. With no room for further errors, Rafa held at love to gain a 5-3 lead and moved over the top with a forehand winner a few minutes later that secured the final break for him and a place in the title match for the fifth time in the past six years at Caja Magica.

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