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NADAL

Nadal regains number one despite China loss

It was a bittersweet end for the Majorcan tennis player at the China Open as he lost 6-3, 6-4 to arch rival Novak Djokovic in the final but regained the number one spot in the world rankings after nearly two years.

Nadal regains number one despite China loss
The result was Nadal's first hardcourt loss of the season. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP

The result was Nadal's first hardcourt loss of the season.

The second seed in Beijing only showed rare glimpses of the form that has seen him win 10 titles this year, with his Serbian opponent racing to a 3-0 lead in the first ten minutes.

Top seed Djokovic then powered ahead, showing formidable power-hitting to take the first set 25 minutes later.

The pair displayed incredible movement in the opening game of the second set, engaging in quickfire net-play, much to the delight of the crowd.

Nadal came out on top of that duel, winning the point, but Djokovic took the game to break serve.

Djokovic then kept his nerve, holding serve until the conclusion of the match on one hour 27 minutes.

The victory represents a sweet one for Djokovic, who is spending his 101st week at number one, and will have his current streak of 48 weeks ended on Monday when the ATP announce its new rankings with Nadal at the top.

The Spaniard only needed to make the final to unseat him.

After the match, Djokovic congratulated Nadal on his achievement.

"I have to say congratulations to Rafael because he deserves definitely to be number one of the world this year with the season that he has had," he said in an interview on court.

"He is the best player so far in 2013, there is no question about it.

"I am just very happy to be able to continue to play well and hopefully I can maintain the rhythm."

Djokovic has been in dominant form at the China Open, where he has an unbeaten run stretching back to 2009. He did not attend in 2011.

Nadal has had the beating of Djokovic this season, coming out on top at the semi-finals at Roland Garros and last month's final at the US Open, as well as the Canada Masters.

But he said that Djokovic was "too strong" for him in Beijing at the serve. Nadal did not break his opponent throughout the match.

"I didn't play my best match this afternoon. But he played at a greater level with his serve. I was not able to have any chance when I was returning during the whole match.

"He was able to hit all the balls where he wanted to hit them, so when that is happening against a player like Novak you are dead."

Nadal's return to the top for the first time since July 2011 marks an astonishing comeback for the 13-time Grand Slam champion, who spent the second half of last year on the sidelines injured.

Heading into the match at Beijing's National Tennis Centre, the pair had played each other 37 times, with Nadal leading the rivalry 22-15.

The winner of the China Open takes $557,100 prize money and 500 ATP Points.

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TENNIS

IN PICS: Rafa Nadal weds childhood sweetheart in Mallorca

Rafael Nadal married his partner of 14 years, Xisca Perello, at a castle in Mallorca on Saturday.

IN PICS: Rafa Nadal weds childhood sweetheart in Mallorca
Photo: Fundacion Rafa Nadal

Nadal, the 19-time grand slam champion, tied the knot with 31-year-old Perello at La Fortaleza, with a reported 350 guests invited to a private ceremony.

Juan Carlos I, the king of Spain from 1975 to 2014, was believed to be among those in attendance while the Michelin-star chef, Quique Dacosta, was reportedly in charge of catering.

The newlyweds shared some official photos of the day through the Fundacion Rafa Nadal, the NGO the tennis player set up on Mallorca

Photo: Fundacion Rafa Nadal

 

Nadal, 33, met his wife through his younger sister Maribel, a childhood friend of Perello.

They started dating in 2005 when they were both teenagers after meeting several years before.


Photo: Fundacion Rafa Nadal

The couple announced their engagement in January and revealed that the tennis ace had proposed on a romantic trip to Rome last May but chose to  keep the news private.

 

Perello, has always shunned the media spotlight although she has been pictured courtside at some of Nadal’s biggest matches.


Nadal kisses Perello after winning against France's Gael Monfils in the final tennis match at the Monte-Carlo ATP Masters Series Tournament in Monaco on April 17, 2016. 

But she isn't always there. In a 2011 interview with The Daily Telegraph, Perello explained: “He needs his space when he is competing, and just the idea of me hanging around and waiting on his needs all day tires me out.

“It would asphyxiate me. And then he would have to be worrying about me… No. If I followed him everywhere, I think there's a risk we might stop getting along.”

She works in insurance and is a business graduate but also serves as project director for the Rafa Nadal Foundation, the charity which Nadal launched almost ten years ago.

In an interview with sports newspaper Marca last year, the world number 2 hinted that he wouldn't be ready to start a family until he had retired from tennis. 

'I keep my commitment with tennis and my happiness', Nadal told Marca. 'I enjoy both in tennis and outside it. I have a girlfriend too and I am not alone to take decisions.

“Having family? I don't know, things are not easy to be predict. At this age, I thought that I would have already been a former player and that I would have started a family.”

READ ALSO: Rafa Nadal donates €1million to help victims of Mallorca floods 

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