Nadal triumphs in Cincinnati
Rafael Nadal beat American John Isner over two tie-breaks in the Western and Southern Open final and will replace Andy Murray as world number two on Monday.
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The Spaniard's 26th title at ATP Masters 1000 level, the highest tier below the grand slams, means he leapfrogs Wimbledon champion Murray ahead of this month's US Open. And Nadal also stands to be the second seed in New York even though the Scot will be defending his title.
He also equals world number one Novak Djokovic's record of five Masters 1000 titles in a season after taking a 7-6 (10/8) 7-6 (7/3) win over big-serving Isner, who fired down 11 aces to Nadal's six.
Both Murray and world number one Djokovic were eliminated in the quarter-finals in Cincinnati this week.
The first set of the final went on serve throughout. With Nadal serving at 6-5 behind, Isner opened up a 15-40 lead to set up two set points. Nadal, though, hit two successive aces to help him force a tie-break which he won 10/8 with his second set point.
There were once again no breaks in the second set and this time the tie-break was more comfortable for Nadal, who won the first two points and led all the way before taking his first match point.
Isner told atpworldtour.com: "I played extremely well all week. Thought I played well again today. Unfortunately, it just wasn't good enough.
"I'm going to hold my head up high after today's match and after this whole week. But Rafa was better than me today."
Nadal has a 53-3 win-loss record this year, including nine titles and now a career-best 15 consecutive hard-court match wins.
Nadal told the ATP website: "It means a lot. Being able to win two straight titles, two Masters 1000 on hard (courts) back to back is just amazing for me. I never did something like this in all my career.
"It was an emotional moment for so many different facts. First of all, I won a very important tournament, Masters 1000. Second thing, after all the (injury) problems that I had, it was two weeks in a row on hard playing at the highest level.
"Then the ranking is there. I was playing for a lot of points this week and I'm in a good position."