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Brilliant Nadal Wins 23rd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Title, 40th Clay Crown

Madrid, Spain

Nadal© AFP/Getty ImagesRafael Nadal has extended his record of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles to 23.

Rafael Nadal captured his 23rd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy and his third title at the Mutua Madrid Open on Sunday.

Nadal recorded his 30th match win at the prestigious clay-court tournament with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over No. 15 seed Stanislas Wawrinka. It was his ninth straight triumph over the Swiss No. 2.

"I'm very happy," said Nadal. "I think I played a really good match. I think I played the best match of the whole week today in the final. Being able to play here in Madrid and being able to win in front of all my people, is something really special."

The 26-year-old Mallorcan moved to joint second (with Thomas Muster) in the Open Era with 40 clay-court titles. Nadal, who is 40-6 overall in clay finals, now only trails fellow left-hander Guillermo Vilas (46). “I'm very happy for everything that has happened," said Nadal. "Forty titles on clay are far more than I ever dreamed of [winning]."

By winning his fifth title of 2013 and his 55th tour-level crown overall, Nadal won €638,500 in prize money and earned 1,000 Emirates ATP Rankings points. Wawrinka received €313,070 and 600 points.

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Wawrinka was put under pressure immediately, falling to 0/40. Though he fought his way back to deuce, Nadal converted his sixth break point opportunity with a crosscourt forehand pass. He took a 4-0 lead in the first set, before Wawrinka got his first game. Nadal hit 10 winners and won all four of his points at the net in the 31-minute opener. The fifth seed closed out with an ace in a hold to love. 

"I think he started really well," said Wawrinka. "Even if I'm playing my best tennis and [am] completely fresh, it's really, really tough to beat him. It was tough for me. The ball was flying.  I didn't find out a way how to play my game [and] how to be aggressive on the court. He was also dictating the points."

Wawrinka did not drop a point in his first two service games, but at 2-2 dropped to 0/40. Showcasing the kind of form that took him to the Portugal Open title (d. Ferrer) one week ago, the World No. 15 won five straight points to silence the Spanish crowd. Two games later, two double faults in a row hurt Wawrinka as Nadal gained his third break of the match for a 4-3 lead. 

“I had the idea to go out there and to [play] good [forehand] drives, to smack it hard, and try to get many points with my drive," said Nadal.

Nadal, WawrinkaAs his groundstrokes found their range, Nadal grew in confidence. Barely 10 minutes later, Nadal celebrated his best performance of the week. It was his seventh final since his comeback from a seven-month injury lay-off in February. The final, which lasted 71 minutes, ended when Wawrinka over-hit a forehand groundstroke.  

"[Nadal’s] a lefty and puts so much topspin on his forehand, so I have to [play my] backhand always high," said Wawrinka. "So I need to have the perfect timing to play a strong shot. You could see today [that] if I don't have the legs to get there, I have no chance to come back in the point. So many times [today] he hit one [or] two forehands to my backhand and I could come back."

Wawrinka, who was on a nine-match winning streak, also finished runner-up at the 2008 Internazionali BNL d'Italia (l. to Djokovic). He drops to 4-8 overall in title matches and to a 25-9 match record on the season.

Wawrinka will return to the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings on Monday. He was last ranked among the elite on 6 October 2008. His career-high was World No. 9 in June 2008.

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