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Nadal, Nishikori, To Contest Madrid Final

Madrid, Spain

Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal is chasing his 27th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown.

FINALS DAY: World No. 1 Rafael Nadal will be bidding for a record 27th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title when he goes up against world No. 12 Kei Nishkori in the 13th Mutua Madrid Open final. Three-time champion Nadal takes on the Japanese No. 1, who is looking to become the first Asian to win a Masters 1000 title, for the seventh time with the Spaniard winning all six of their previous encounters. If Nishikori wins he will also become the 60th different ATP Masters 1000 champion. 

WHAT’S AT STAKE: Winner: $698,720 and 1,000 Emirates ATP Ranking points
Finalist: $342,600 and 600 Emirates ATP Ranking points 

GOING FOR FOUR: Nadal is looking to become the first player to win four Madrid titles after emerging victorious here in 2005 (d. Ljubicic), 2010 (d. Federer) and 2013 (d. Wawrinka). He is currently tied with Federer on three wins apiece. The Spaniard has a 13-2 record on clay this year. The last time he lost more than two matches on clay in a season was 2004 (14-3). For the past nine years (2005-13), he has won at least two European clay court titles coming into Roland Garros.

HISTORY MAKER: Nishikori will be bidding for his 15th win in succession when he takes on Nadal. The Japanese No. 1 will break into the top 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings at the expense of John Isner on Monday despite what happens today, climbing to a career-high No. 9. The 24 year old will become the first player from his country to crack the top 10. The last Asian player to rank in the top 10 was Thailand’s Paradorn Srichaphan on March 29, 2004 at No. 10. 

NO. 1 UPDATE: If Nadal successfully defends his title in Madrid, he will have 12,900 points and be guaranteed to stay No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings after Rome. If he’s runner-up in Madrid, however, he would then need to reach the SF in Rome to remain at No. 1. If he doesn’t reach the SF and Djokovic wins the title, then the Serb will return to the summit of the rankings. Next week will mark Nadal’s 32nd week in a row at No. 1 (since Oct. 7, 2013) and the 134th overall.

KEI’S BID FOR SIX: Nishikori is on the hunt for a sixth title today and a second on clay. He’s contesting his eighth final (5-2): 2008 Delray Beach (d. Blake), 2011 Houston (l. to Sweeting) and Basel (l. to Federer), 2012 Tokyo (d. Raonic), 2013 Memphis (d. F Lopez), 2014 Memphis (d. Karlovic) and 2014 Barcelona (d. Giraldo). 

CHALLENGING HISTORY: Four months after Nadal surpassed Andre Agassi’s haul of 60 career titles with victory in Doha (d. Monfils), the Spaniard is looking to move further up the Open Era title leaderboard. He currently sits level with Guillermo Vilas on 62 titles and a win today would see him take sole ownership of seventh place on the all-time list:

  Player Wins   Player Wins
1 Jimmy Connors 109 5 Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras 64
2 Ivan Lendl 94 7 Rafael Nadal, Guillermo Vilas 62
3 Roger Federer 78 9 Andre Agassi 60
4 John McEnroe 77 10 Ilie Nastase 58

CLAY-COURT TITLE LEADERS: Nadal is three clay-court titles away from equaling Guillermo Vilas’ all-time record of 46 crowns on the surface. The top seven all-time title leaders on clay are Vilas (46), Nadal (43), Thomas Muster (40), Bjorn Borg and Manuel Orantes (both 30), Ivan Lendl and Ilie Nastase (both 28). Nadal, who has the best career match-win percentage on clay (.930), became the 11th player in the Open Era to win at least 300 matches on clay in Monte-Carlo last month. Nishikori has won 33 career matches on clay and is 10-0 on the surface this year.

2014 MATCH-WIN LEADERS: Nadal, who will be bidding for his 30th win of the season today, leads the way in terms of match wins this season. Nishikori will tie with Federer on 28 wins if he can get his hands on the title. The world No. 1 and 12 have been two of 2014’s standout players:

Rank Player 2014 W-L
1 Rafael Nadal 29-5
2 Roger Federer 28-5
T3 Kei Nishikori 27-4
T3 Marin Cilic 27-9
T5 Tomas Berdych 26-7
T5 Fabio Fognini 26-9

2014 TITLE LEADERS: Both Nadal and Nishikori are looking to join Stanislas Wawrinka on three titles this year. Six players have won more than one title this season – Wawrinka (Chennai, Australian Open, Monte-Carlo), Cilic (Zagreb, Delray Beach), Nadal (Doha, Rio), Djokovic (Indian Wells, Miami), Dimitrov (Acapulco, Bucharest) and Nishikori (Memphis, Barcelona). Today’s winner will also become the first two-time winner on clay this season. Coming into Madrid there has been 11 different champions on clay in as many tournaments this year. 

ATP MASTERS 1000 WINS: Nadal is looking to close the gap on Federer in matches won at this level. The Spaniard is also looking to continue his run of winning a M1000 title every year since 2005. All-Time M1000 Title Leaders: Nadal (26), Federer (21), Djokovic (18), Agassi (17), Sampras (11), Murray (9), Muster (8) and Chang (7). 

Rank Player Masters 1000 W-L
1 Roger Federer 295-87
2 Rafael Nadal 276-53
3 Novak Djokovic 213-53
4 Andre Agassi 209-73
5 Pete Sampras 190-70

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DAY 8 FEDEX ATP HEAD 2 HEADS

MANOLO SANTANA

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs [10] Kei Nishikori (JPN)


FedEx Head 2 Head: Nadal leads 6-0

Nadal is contesting his 39th ATP Masters 1000 final (26-12) and 90th overall (62-27). His last triumph at this level came in Cincinnati last August (d. Isner in F). 
• Nadal advanced to the Madrid final for the sixth time (3-2) after a 6-4, 6-3 victory over compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut. In the QF, Nadal posted his 17th successive win against Tomas Berdych, defeating the Czech 6-4, 6-2, while saving the one BP he faced. He eased past Jarkko Nieminen a 6-1, 6-4 in the 3R. 
• Nadal took sole ownership of 11th place on the Open Era match wins list with a comfortable 6-1, 6-0 victory over Juan Monaco in the 2R, surpassing the great Arthur Ashe (683-225) in career wins. The next player in his sights is Boris Becker, who sits 10th on 713 wins.
• Nadal leads the way in return games won this week, winning 56% of them (19 of 34). 
• Nadal returns to Madrid for the 12th time. He has lifted the title here on three occasions: 2005 (d. Ljubicic), 2010 (d. Federer) and 2013 (d. Wawrinka). He has failed to reach the QF just once in the last nine years – in 2012 when he fell to Verdasco in the 3R. 
• Nadal opened the season by defeating Gael Monfils to clinch the title in Doha. Qatar was the 17th different country the Spaniard had lifted an ATP title in. 
• Nadal collected his 43rd clay-court title and 62nd overall when he defeated Dolgopolov in the inaugural Rio Open final in February. The Spaniard equaled Guillermo Vilas in seventh place on the Open Era titles list with the victory and can surpass him today. 
• In Monte-Carlo, Nadal became just the 11th player in the Open Era to win at least 300 matches on clay when he defeated Seppi in the 3R (l. to Ferrer in QF). Countryman Carlos Moya was the last player to win at least 300 career matches on the surface in 2007. 
• Nadal appeared in a career-high 14 finals in 2013, winning 10 titles. He returned to No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on October 7 and finished the season in top spot for the third time. 
• Nadal has been ranked in the top five longer than any active player (since May 9, 2005) and his total of 62 career titles is the second-best among active players (Federer 77). 
Nishikori is contesting his first ATP Masters 1000 final and eighth overall (5-2).
• Nishikori extended his winning streak to 14 matches after edging David Ferrer 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-3 in the SF, eventually converting on his 10th MP. At two hours and 56 minutes, it was the longest match of the week. He saved three of three BPs en route to beating Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 6-4 in the QF. In the 3R, he squeezed past Milos Raonic 7-6(5), 7-6(5) after overcoming Ivan Dodig and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in straight sets in his opening two rounds. 
• Nishikori returns to Madrid for the third time. After falling in the 1R on his debut in 2011 (l. to Riba), the Japanese No. 1 advanced to the QF last year with victory over No. 2 Federer (l. to Andujar).
• Nishikori won his 4th and 5th career titles in Memphis (d. Karlovic in F) and Barcelona (d. Giraldo in F) earlier this year. The victory in Barcelona was his first ever tournament win on a clay court. 
• Nishikori has finished inside the top 25 in the past three seasons while becoming the highest ranked player from his country in ATP history. He reached a career-high No. 11 on June 17, 2013.
• Nishikori will be looking to follow Wawrinka’s lead in breaking up the Big Four’s – Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray – domination of the Masters 1000 events. In the last 37 Masters 1000 tournaments, Nadal, Djokovic, Federer and Murray have accounted for 34 titles (28 of the past 30 since 2011). The only exceptions over the last four years came in Paris-Bercy in 2010 (Soderling) and 2012 (Ferrer) and earlier this year in Monte-Carlo when Wawrinka defeated Federer in the final. 

NADAL IN CLAY FINALS: Nadal is 43-6 in clay finals, with Nishikori looking to become the fourth player to beat him in a final on the surface (after Djokovic (three times), Federer (twice) and Zeballos). Here's a year-by-year look at his clay court dominance since he played his first match in 2002. Since 2005, he has compiled a 280-13 clay court match record (.956) on the ATP World Tour, never losing more than two clay matches in a season during that stretch:

Year W-L Clay Finals
2014 13-2 1-0
2013 39-2 6-2 (l. to Zeballos, Djokovic)
2012 23-1 4-0
2011 28-2 3-2 (l. to Djokovic in both)
2010 22-0 4-0
2009 24-2 3-1 (l. to Federer)
2008 24-1 4-0
2007 31-1 5-1 (l. to Federer)
2006 26-0 4-0
2005 50-2 8-0
2004 14-3 1-0
2003 11-6 0-0
2002 1-1 0-0

DOUBLES FINAL

[1] Bob Bryan (USA) & vs [6] Daniel Nestor (CAN) &
Mike Bryan (USA) Nenad Zimonjic (SRB)


Bob and Mike Bryan are currently on a 24-match winning streak and are looking to win their sixth title in a row after triumphing in Delray Beach (d. Cermak/Elgin), Indian Wells (d. Peya/Soares), Miami (d. Cabal/Farah), Houston (d. Marrero/Verdasco) and Monte-Carlo (d. Dodig/Melo). Their last loss came against Butorac/Klaasen in the Memphis final.
• Bob and Mike Bryan’s 24-match unbeaten run is the second longest streak of their career. Last year they notched 25 wins in a row before falling in the SF at the US Open to Paes/Stepanek. 
• Bob and Mike Bryan are looking for their 30th ATP Masters 1000 title and their sixth in Madrid. They previously lifted the trophy in 2006 (d. Nestor/Knowles), 2007 (d. Fyrstenberg/Matkowski), 2010 (d. Nestor/Zimonjic), 2011 (d. Llodra/Zimonjic) and 2013 (d. Peya/Soares). They fell in the final here once, losing in 2004 to Knowles and Nestor. 
Mike Bryan is seeking an unprecedented 101st Tour-level title today. As a team, the Bryan brothers have won an all-time high 98 doubles crowns, but Mike lifted two additional titles in 2002: Nottingham (w/Mark Knowles) and Long Island (w/Mahesh Bhupathi). 
• This will be Bob and Mike Bryan’s 148th final outing as a team (98-49). 
• Last season, Bob and Mike Bryan tied a career-best year with 11 titles (also in ‘07, ‘10), winning three Grand Slams and five ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles.
• Nestor is bidding for a fifth career title in Madrid. The Canadian has emerged victorious here on four occasions with two different partners, winning in 2002, ‘04 and ‘05 alongside Mark Knowles and in 2009 with today’s partner Zimonjic. 
Nestor and Zimonjic are on the hunt for their 26th ATP doubles crown as a team. The pair triumphed at the Apia International Sydney at the beginning of the year (d. Bopanna/Qureshi) before falling in the final in both Dubai and Barcelona. Nestor also lifted the Brisbane title alongside Mariusz Fyrstenberg in the opening week of the season. 
• Nestor will take sole ownership of third place in the Open Era doubles title leaderboard with a win today. The Canadian veteran is currently tied with Todd Woodbridge in third place on 83 titles, behind Mike Bryan (100) and Bob Bryan (98).
• Zimonjic, who notched his 600th career win earlier in the week, is seeking his 51st ATP doubles title today. If the Serb is successful, he will join Ilie Nastase in 23rd place on the all-time list, just one behind India’s Mahesh Bhupathi
• Nestor is contesting his 139th doubles final (83-55); Zimonjic is appearing in his 84th (50-33).
• The last time these two teams met was in was in the Monte-Carlo SF last month when Bob and Mike Bryan clinched a 7-6(5), 6-3 victory. That was the only time they have clashed this year. 

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