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Beyond the Baseline

Daily Bagel: How Kei Nishikori built a set and break lead on Rafael Nadal

http://youtu.be/8L4Q8phMAqE

• Video: The top five hot shots from the Madrid Open. Bravo, Kei Nishikori.

• Grigor Dimitrov had a case of sweaty palms during his three-set win over Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the first round of the Italian Open.

• A look at how Kei Nishikori built a set and a break lead on Rafael Nadal in the Madrid Open final.

Nishikori hit six forehand winners building his set and a break lead and every one of them was a run-around forehand standing in the Ad court. What is even more surprising is that all six went back through the Ad court behind Nadal, wrong-footing the Spaniard. Nishikori ran all the way to the Ad court alley to hit three of the winners in a clear indication that he was going to be the one controlling the critical Ad court exchanges – not the World No. 1.

If Nishikori wasn’t hitting a winner in the Ad court battles then there was a good chance he was forcing an error. Nadal’s normally dominant forehand was a non-factor during this period of the match, notching up only two winners and committing 14 errors. Ten of the Spaniard’s 14 errors were all out wide in the Ad court, often times in extreme locations very deep or outside the doubles alley.

• Andy Murray has no idea why his game has been off since winning Wimbledon.

Asked what was missing from his game, Murray said: “My coach is missing. That’s a big part of my team.

“But even when I was working with Ivan, I didn’t necessarily play my best tennis here last year. I’m not 100 per cent sure what it is.”

• Boris Becker is with Novak Djokovic this week in Rome, but Djokovic wants both Marian Vajda and Becker with him at the French Open.

• Here's a clip of Tommy Haas and Radek Stepanek skipping around in Rome:

http://instagram.com/p/n5-G1FKD-k/

• The fire at James Blake's rented Florida home, which resulted in three deaths, may have been a murder-suicide.

• Taking a closer look at five abysmal ATP losing streaks.

• Agnieszka Radwanska looks a bit less ninja-like in these ads for Lexus.

• I wrote about the legend of Dinara Safina for WTA.com.

• Li Na is on the cover of GQ China. To which I ask, "There's a GQ China?"

• Non-tennis: A bearded Austrian drag queen named Conchita Wurst won the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest. My vote (I could vote since I'm in Europe for the week) went to the catchy radio-friendly song from The Netherlands.

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