By Erwin Ong
CINCINNATI – In the end, it was Rafael Nadal who survived.
The Spaniard faced the hard-serving game of unseeded American John Isner in Sunday’s final at the Western & Southern Open. In front of a packed Stadium Court at the Lindner Family Tennis Center, the two fought to hoist the Rookwood Cup for the first time in either player’s career.
Nadal and Isner played a close match, Nadal swatted away break points while Isner did not face any during the match. In the end, it came down to tiebreaks, and Nada – the 12-time Grand Slam Champion, -- elevated his level of play and prevailed 7-6(8), 7-6(3).
Nadal gave credit to Isner’s performance in Sunday’s final, especially to the 6’10" American’s serve and forehand. "The match was very, very close and decided in just a few balls," said Nadal, who moves to the No. 2 spot in the Emirates ATP rankings when the new list is released on Monday. Isner, for his performance, will move to 11th place.
Now Nadal heads into the U.S. Open as the winner of back-to-back titles at the Rogers Cup, played this year in Montreal, and Cincinnati. "It means a lot," said Nadal about this achievement. "[It’s] just amazing for me." The player to achieve this feat – Andy Roddick, in 2003 – went on to win the U.S. Open later that summer. While this momentum bodes well for Nadal, he shrugs off talk of using his wins as a crystal ball for the year’s final Slam. "The only thing that means that is I am playing well," said Nadal. "Hopefully I can continue playing well in the U.S. Open in a week."
In the women’s doubles final, Su-Wei Hsieh of Chinese Tapei and partner Peng Shuai of China took the title over opponents Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke.
In the women’s final, No. 1 Serena Williams plays second seed Victoria Azarenka. The men’s doubles final will be played between the Bryan Brothers and Spaniards Granollers and Lopez.