Rafael Nadal wins Cincinnati Masters title
Beats John Isner in two tiebreak sets
Up to No.2 in world with latest triumph
Victoria Azarenka beats Serena Williams in women's final
Rafael Nadal completed his preparations for the U.S. Open by claiming the title in Cincinnati for the first time with a hard-fought 7-6 7-6 win over home hope John Isner Sunday.
It was his 26th victory at a Masters 1000 tournament and second in succession after lifting the trophy in Montreal last week.
Nadal, who has won nine titles in 2013 in a remarkable run since returning to the ATP circuit after injury in February, has moved to No.2 in the world off the back of that success.
It has relegated Britain’s Andy Murray, who will be defending his U.S. Open crown when the action starts at Flushing Meadows on August 26, to third seed when the draw is made later this week.
Only a shock first round exit at Wimbledon has interrupted Nadal’s charge to the top of the rankings with three of his successes coming on hard courts on top of his traditional dominance on clay.
Isner, who had beaten World No.1 Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals, forced two set points at 6-5 on Nadal’s service in the opener, but could not punish his Spanish opponent.
Nadal eventually took the subsequent tiebreak 10-8 before another closely fought second set.
He could not force a single break point on the service of the giant Isner, but in the second tiebreaker forged a 5-1 lead to take control.
A typical cross court winner gave Nadal victory in a shade under two hours, collapsing to the ground in trade mark fashion.
It was his 15th straight victory on hard courts and he will be the man in form for the final grand slam of the season, looking at add to his French Open success earlier this year.
“This title is very important for me, the Open is still a week away,” he told the crowd after his victory. “This is the time to enjoy this one. In a few days I’ll start thinking about the Open,” he added.
But there was an upset in the women’s final as Victoria Azarenka recovered from a set down to beat World No.1 Serena Williams 2-6 6-2 7-6 in two and a half hours.
The second seed from Belarus had beaten Williams earlier this year in Doha, just after claiming the first grand slam of the season in Australia.
But the latest triumph was only her third over the American in 15 attempts, giving her a morale boost ahead of next week in New York.