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ThrowbackTimes Madrid: Rafael Nadal downs Grigor Dimitrov to stay in title chase

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In 2015, Madrid’s Caja Magica staged the Masters 1000 event on clay for the seventh time, with all the top seed reaching the quarters except the Swiss duo of Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka. Two-time champion Rafael Nadal was among the favorites again, advancing into the sixth Caja Magica semi-final after a 6-3, 6-4 win over Grigor Dimitrov in an hour and 48 minutes.

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It was their sixth meeting and the sixth triumph for the Spaniard who tamed his shots more efficiently, having the advantage in both shortest and more extended rallies to break the Bulgarian’s resistance and seal the deal in straight sets.

Nadal got broken twice but that couldn’t harm his plans, taking half of the return points and securing five breaks from 15 chances to advance into the last four and stay on the course for the third straight title in front of the home fans.

Grigor had to work hard from the very first game, fending off three break chances to avoid an early setback before Nadal broke him at 15 in game three with an incredible backhand crosscourt winner that sent him 2-1 in front.

Out of sudden, Dimitrov broke back at love to get back on the positive side of the scoreboard, only to spray a forehand error in the next game to give serve away for the second straight time. Rafa fended off break chances to cement the break and move 4-2 in front, converting the third set point on the return at 5-3 to grab the opener in 50 minutes.

The Bulgarian fought back at the beginning of the second set, landing a perfect half&volley winner in the third game to steal the rival’s serve, surviving the next game and opening a 3-1 advantage when Nadal netted a forehand.

A much better forehand secured a break for Rafa in the sixth game, leveling the score at 3-3 and restoring the order and momentum ahead of the second part of the set. The Spaniard held at 15 in the seventh game with a service winner before facing a break chance at 4-4 that could have secured the second set for Grigor.

Remaining focused, Nadal repelled it and brought the game home with an unreturned serve, forcing the opponent to serve for staying in the encounter. Dimitrov had a game point but his forehand landed wide, hitting a double fault to offer the first match point to Rafa.

He saved that one but the home favorite converted the second after a deep return that sent him over the top and earned the 25th victory from 28 encounters in Caja Magica.

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