Rafael Nadal won the Cincinnati Masters for the first time on Sunday, his ninth title of 2013 lifting him to No 2 in the world and stamping him a US Open favorite.
The fourth-seeded Spaniard, whose season didn’t start until February when he returned from a seven-month injury absence, proved again the eight-time French Open champion is back in form after his first round exit at Wimbledon.
He beat unseeded American John Isner 7-6 (10/8), 7-6 (7/3) to add the Cincinnati crown to the Montreal Masters title he won a week before, his first ever back-to-back hardcourt trophies.
Nadal said that winning back-to-back Masters 1000 titles was uniquely demanding. “We play from the first round against the best players in the world, the top 50 players.
In other tournaments, you can have good draws, here you cannot. Winning back to back tournaments is difficult because the courts are not exactly the same, the weather conditions are not exactly the same.
“You test your body and your tennis to the limit. You need to be 100 percent focused during the two weeks and playing every day.” However, Nadal wasn’t ready to say his two wins in as many weeks was a sign of things to come at the US Open, the last Grand Slam of the season that starts a week from Monday on the hardcourts of Flushing Meadows.
“The only thing this means is I’m playing well and hopefully I can continue playing well in the US Open in a week,” said Nadal. “That’s my goal. I’m going to rest for two days. I’m going to practice on Wednesday for the first time in New York, and I’m going to work hard during the first few days to be ready for that.”