Madrid Flashback: Rafael Nadal tops Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets

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In 2015, Madrid’s Caja Magica staged the Masters 1000 event on clay for the seventh time. All the top seeds reached the quarter-final except the Swiss duo of Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka. Two-time champion Rafael Nadal was among the favorites again, advancing into the sixth Caja Magica semi-final thanks to a 6-3, 6-4 win over Grigor Dimitrov in an hour and 48 minutes.

It was their sixth meeting and the sixth triumph for the Spaniard, who tamed his shots more efficiently than the Bulgarian in front of the partisan crowd. Rafa had the advantage in the shortest and more extended rallies, breaking Grigor’s resistance and sealing the deal in straight sets.

Nadal got broken twice, but that could not harm his plans after taking half of the return points and securing five breaks from 15 chances to stay on the course for the third straight title in front of the home fans. Grigor had to work hard from the first game, fending off three break chances to avoid an early setback before Nadal broke him at 15 in game three with an incredible backhand crosscourt winner.

Suddenly, Dimitrov broke back at love to get back on the positive side of the scoreboard. The Bulgarian could not stay there for long, though, as he sprayed a forehand error in the next game and gave serve away for the second straight time.

Rafa fended off break chances to cement the lead and move 4-2 in front and converted the third set point on the return at 5-3 to grab the opener in 50 minutes.

Rafael Nadal ousted Grigor Dimitrov in the 2015 Madrid quarter-final.
The Bulgarian fought back at the beginning of the second set, eager to show his best tennis and challenge the favorite.

He landed a perfect half-volley winner in the third game to steal Nadal’s serve and survived the next one to open a 3-1 advantage when his rival netted a forehand. A much better forehand secured a break for Rafa in the sixth game, leveling the score at 3-3 and restoring the order and momentum.

The Spaniard held at 15 with a service winner in the seventh game before facing a break chance at 4-4 that could have secured the second set for Grigor. Remaining focused, Nadal repelled it and brought the game home with an unreturned serve, forcing the opponent to serve to stay in the encounter.

Dimitrov had a game point for 5-5, but his forehand landed wide before hitting a double fault to offer the first match point to Rafa. He saved that one, but the home favorite converted the second after a deep return that propelled him over the top and towards the 25th victory from 28 encounters in Caja Magica.

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