MADRID, Spain (AP): Rafael Nadal defeated Dominic Thiem 7-6 (8), 6-4 yesterday in the Madrid Open final to win his third straight title and continue his good form heading into the French Open. Nadal withstood a tough challenge from the ninth-ranked Thiem, converting on his fourth match point to earn his 15th straight victory on clay and tie Novak Djokovic’s record of 30 career titles in Masters 1000 events. The triumph at his home tournament gave Nadal his 72nd career title, and 52nd on clay. It was Nadal’s second straight win against the 23-year-old Austrian, coming two weeks after the Barcelona Open final when the fifth-ranked Spaniard cruised to victory in straight sets. Nadal also won in Monte Carlo last month. Nadal had easily defeated Thiem in Barcelona, losing only five games in a two-set victory, but was forced to work a lot harder yesterday. In an even first set, Nadal had to save two set points in the tiebreaker. The Spaniard converted his fifth set point of the match to take that tiebreaker and go one set up. Nadal broke early in the second set but was not able to pull away, and needed to save four break points in the final game before closing out the match. Thiem was trying to win his ninth title, and the first since winning the Rio de Janeiro tournament in the beginning of the year. It was his first final in a Masters 1000 event. Nadal has a tour-leading 34 victories in what has been a superb season following lean years for the 14-time Grand Slam champion. He also made it to three finals, losing two of them to Roger Federer, including at the Australian Open. Nadal, who was out for much of last year because of a wrist injury, has won 30 of his last 32 sets going into the tournament in Rome this week. Then he will try to win his 10th title at Roland Garros, where he won his last Grand Slam title three years ago. He defeated Djokovic in the semi finals in Madrid, snapping a seven-match winless streak against the second-ranked Serb. It was Nadal’s fifth title in eighth Madrid Open finals, and the first since 2014. His other titles came in 2005, 2010 and 2013.
Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Sunk in recession for the past six years and struggling to steer its economy through painful austerity cuts, Greece now faces a fertility crisis as well. “Benefits have been cut, the cost of living has risen, wages are down and there is great uncertainty,” says Leonidas Papadopoulos, managing director of the Leto hospital and a veteran obstetrician. “Couples think twice nowadays, not only about a second child but even about their first. It looks like there will be 10,000 fewer births next year,” he adds, citing estimates drawn from state and private studies. According to state statistics agency Elstat, the fertility rate in Greece has fallen from 2.33 children per woman in 1975 to 1.4 in 2011. The replacement rate, the number of births at which the population remains stable, is 2.07 children. Papadopoulos also cites a recent study by the University of Athens which found that the rate of miscarriages has doubled to four percent in the last two years. And births have gone from 118,000 in 2008 to 101,000 last year, he notes. “At this rate, Greece will be much smaller in a few years,” Papadopoulos says. The European Union fertility leader is Ireland with 2.05 births in 2012, followed by France with 2.01 children. In one of its projected scenarios, Elstat sees the population of Greece dropping to 9.7 million in 2050 from 11.29 million in 2012. A jobless rate of over 27 per cent – and over 30 per cent among women – compounds the difficulty facing couples today. “Policies to protect maternity are easier to apply in good (economic) periods,” says a high-ranking state welfare official who declined to be named. “In the private sector, mothers very frequently do not make use of their rights because unemployment is very high,” the official added. In Greece, even for couples who are not in dire straits, supporting a large family is tough. “We cannot meet the needs of our three children and our parents are having to contribute from their pensions,” says Georgia Kitsaki, an unemployed hotel worker from Thessaloniki. Georgia and her husband Nikos, who is also unemployed after a labour accident, received a monthly jobless benefit of 470 euros until December, and child benefit of 276 euros. The latter has since been suspended. “In any case, this money is so little that it cannot even cover bread and milk for the children,” she adds. Source: AFP.