HAMBURG: Top seed Rafael Nadal won the Hamburg claycourt title on Sunday (Monday in Manila) gaining a much-needed confidence boost after a slump in form, beating Italian eighth seed Fabio Fognini 7-5, 7-5.
Nadal had been beaten twice previously this season by the experienced Fognini, in Rio de Janeiro and then in Barcelona.
But he gained his revenge in the northern German city, recovering from being broken in the very first game of a tight opening set and eventually clinching the title on his first match point after more than two and a half hours on court.
Nadal has now won the Hamburg title twice after a previous success in 2008—his last appearance — and has 47 claycourt titles.
“I had some cramps which wasn’t very pleasant,” said 29-year-old Nadal.
“I lost the last two times against him, so I knew it was going to be a tough one.
“I think I had a great attitude the whole match, very positive, fighting for every ball. I had some tough moments on court, lost opportunities, but every time I came back and I kept fighting with the right mentality. I’m very happy for the victory. It is an important victory for me.”
Nadal now heads for the United States hardcourt season with the US Open, the season’s last Grand Slam tournament, starting in New York on August 31.
It has been a tough year for the former world number one who lost his French Open title in June before seeing his world ranking slump to 10, his lowest in a decade.
“Now the hardcourt season is starting, it’s a different story,” he said.
“But at the same time, I’ll keep going with the same mentality and this title helps to be a little bit more calm and add some points to my ranking to try to finish the year in the top eight again.”