After loss to Murray, Nadal slumps to his lowest rank in a decade
Paris: Rafael Nadal has dropped three places to number seven in the latest ATP rankings released yesterday, a day after his defeat in the Madrid Open final to Andy Murray.
Rafael Nadal returns to Andy Murray during the Madrid Open final on Sunday. Pic/AFP
It is the Spaniard's lowest ranking in 10 years as Serb Novak Djokovic, who did not compete in Spain, continues to dominate. Murray holds third place after stunning nine-time French Open champion Nadal 6-3, 6-2 to win his second clay-court title in a week after Munich.
Nadal stressed his priority was not dropping further down the rankings which could seriously affect his seeding at Roland Garros. "Nothing changes going from five to seven," he said.
"I need a result in Rome to not drop below the top eight which could really affect Roland Garros. If you are not in the top eight you can get a top player in a early round."
Victory was also Murray's first ever on clay over Nadal in seven attempts and stretched the Scot's perfect start on the surface this season to 9-0 after wining his first ever clay court tournament earlier this week in Munich. Nadal was searching for his third straight title in the Spanish capital, but his first of the European clay court swing after defeats to Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Masters semi-final and a shock exit to Fabio Fognini at the Barcelona Open last month.
Nadal on backfoot
However, he was forced onto the backfoot by a confident Murray from the off as the two-time Grand Slam champion won 12 of the first 14 points in racing into a 3-0 lead. Nadal had two break back opportunities in the seventh game and one more as Murray served for the set at 5-3, but he couldn't convert.
A similar pattern followed in the second set as a combination of some brilliant deep hitting by Murray and errors from Nadal gifted the word number three a break in the first game. Murray backed that up by holding to love and moved to the brink of victory by breaking again in the following game.
However, the 14-time Grand Slam champion handed the final game to Murray as he failed to put the ball in play on four returns to seal victory in just under 90 minutes on court.