It must have been a huge relief for Spain’s former world no.1 Rafael Nadal to get back to the circle of winners. In the Mercedes’s Cup at Stuttgart, he convincingly defeated Serbia’s Viktor Troicki in two sets to win a grass court title for the first time after his Wimbledon 2010 triumph against Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych. In the 2015 season, Nadal had won only at Buenos Aires before Stuttgart. After a series of upsets over last several months, the Mercedes’ Cup win should serve as a great moral booster for the Spaniard, who has now dropped to no.10 in the Emirates’ ATP rankings. In other tennis action last week, Frenchman Nicolas Mahut won the Topshelf Open, where Camila Giorgi of Italy took the women’s title. In the rain affected Aegon Open at Nottingham, 17-year-old Ana Konjuh of Croatia defeated Monica Niculeascu of Romania to emerge as a surprise winner.
After his sketchy progress through the tournament, Rafael Nadal won the Mercedes’ Cup at Stuttgart in Sunday’s final against Serbia’s Viktor Troicki. The first set went on serves and neither player could create any breaks opportunities. In the tiebreak, Nadal looked superior to Troicki. Then the two-time Stuttgart champion opened a 4-1 lead in the second set after breaking the Serbian in the fourth game. With both players winning their service games, Nadal began serving for the title at 5-3 and won it on his third match point. The match lasted 87 minutes, in which Nadal served 11 aces and took 86 per cent first-serve points in his 7-6, 6-3 victory.
The men’s double title at Stuttgart was won by the Indo-Romanian pair of Rohan Bopanna and Florin Mergea. The no.4 seeds took 72 minutes in winning at 5-7, 6-2, 10-7 against Austrian-Brazilian third seeds Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares.
At Hertogenbosch in Netherlands, Nicolas Mahut of France won his second Topshelf Open after his 2013 victory. In the final on Sunday, Mahut defeated Belgium’s second seed David Goffin 7-6, 6-1. The first set went neck-to-neck and Mahut looked in trouble for a while. But with Goffin missing an easy forehand and the Frenchman’s net rush yielding crucial points, the score reached 6-6 and the tiebreak ensued. Early in the tie-break, Mahut produced a much better game with his backhand drives and slices. After a long 35-shot rally Mahut closed the first set. Goffin lost his rhythm in the second set and allowed Mahut to take an early 2-1 lead. From then onwards, Mahut played strongly and found another break before wrapping up the match. The 77-minute match ended 7-6, 6-1 in the Frenchman’s favour and he collected his second Topshelf title in three years.
In the women’s draw at Hertogenbosch, the tussle between two of WTA’s rising stars made for an interesting duel. For both Camila Giorgi of Italy and Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, this was the first ever WTA tour-level final after they progressed smartly through the tournament. The first set was hard-fought as neither player looked like yielding. Giorgi had a superior streak in the first set as she lost only 19 points in 11 service games and never faced a break. In the 11th game she broke Bencic and served out the first set at 7-5. Then the Italian broke away to a 5-3 lead in the second set before winning at 7-5, 6-3 in 84 minutes to claim her maiden Topshelf Open title.
Men’s doubles crown was won by Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic and Lukasz Kubot of Poland, who beat Frenchmen Pierre-Hughes Herbert/Nicolas Mahut 6-2, 7-6 in the final. Women’s doubles was taken by the American-German pair of Asia Muhammad/Laura Siegemund, who defeated no.3 seeds Jelena Jankovic/Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 7-5.
The Aegon Open at Nottingham was won by Ana Konjuh, another rising star from Croatia, who defeated Romania’s Monica Niculescu 1-6, 6-4, 6-2. All through the tournament the 17-year Croat girl had lost her first set in every match and the final was no different. Overcoming the disastrous start, Konjuh bounced back to take the next two sets and collect her first WTA title. Niculescu had caused an upset earlier in the semifinal by trouncing the no.1 seed Agnieszka Radwanska but she succumbed against Konnjuh.
The doubles title at Nottingham went to USA’s no.1 seeds Raquel Kops-Jones/Abigail Spears, who defeated the British pair Jocelyn Rae/Anna Smith in the final, 3-6, 6-3, 11-9. It was a hard-fought game that was decided in the match tiebreak as fortunes fluctuated both ways in the closing stages.
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