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Kei Nishikori fell short in his bid to become the first Asian player to ever win a Masters 1000 title on Sunday in Madrid, but the 24-year-old Shimane, Japan native dazzled on this showpiece point early in the first set against Rafael Nadal.

Video: Dimitrov Rifles a Majestic Tweener against Copil in Madrid

Nishikori was so good at dictating the point off of both wings against Nadal that he was drawing comparisons to Novak Djokovic after taking a 6-2, 4-2 lead.

The lead didn't last, but the impression that Nishikori made by playing this type of tennis on a clay court in Spain against the king of clay himself most certainly will.




On this particular point, Nishikori showed his ability to defend (how about that sliding backhand that he lofts high and deep down the line to keep the point at neutral?) and his ability to improvise (the leaping, crosscourt backhand where it looks like his only option is to take it down the line, and the over-the-shoulder swing volley at an impossible angle that eventually wins him the point) against the most domineering clay-courter that the game has ever seen.

It remains to be seen how high the current world No. 9 will climb, but with tools like these, it appears that the only thing holding him back is his fitness and his ability to reproduce this amazing level on a day-in, day-out basis.

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