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By Chris Oddo | Saturday, February 28, 2015

 
Rafael Nadal, Buenos Aires

Rafael Nadal produced a stirring comeback in the first-set tiebreaker against Carlos Berlocq and eventually prevailed in straight sets, 7-6(7), 6-2.

Photo Source: Marcos Brindicci/Reuters

After seeing his 52-match clay semifinal streak go up in smoke last weekend in Rio, Rafael Nadal set about the business of picking up the pieces and starting a new one this week in Buenos Aires.

So far, so good.

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The Spaniard inched closer to tying Guillermo Vilas for his 46th career clay-court title with an inspired 7-6(7), 6-2 victory over Carlos Berlocq to set up a final with Juan Monaco.

Nadal failed to convert six break points in the first set and for a while it looked like he would pay for his inability to convert against the hard-charging world No. 74.

After 12 games solved nothing, Nadal found himself in big trouble in the first-set tiebreaker when a red-hot Berlocq went on a tear and eventually earned five match points shortly after the first changeover.

But Nadal would mount a last-ditch rally while hitting some improbably clutch shots, reeling off six straight points to take command.

During the comeback Nadal executed an incredible drop shot off a tricky squash shot from Berlocq that will go down as one of the shots of the tournament and maybe the year. Two points later, Nadal had earned a set point of his own.


After trading breaks with Berlocq in games two and three of the second set, Nadal broke for 3-2 and again for 5-2. He then saved a break point in the final game before serving out the match in one hour and 53 minutes.

Though Berlocq appeared to be getting the better of Nadal for much of the first set and a half, the king of clay finished the match in very crisp form. He hit with more depth and pace than he has all week and was able to run the tiring Berlocq ragged down the stretch.

Notes, Tweets, Numbers

Nadal can tie Argentina’s Guillermo Vilas on the all-time clay-court title list with 46 with a victory in Sunday’s final.

Nadal is into his 93rd career final, and 53rd on clay. He owns a 45-7 record in clay finals.

Nadal improves to 4-0 vs. Berlocq, and has won eight of ten sets against him.


 

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