epa02692435 Rafael Nadal of Spain (2nd R) holds the winner's trophy as he poses next to the Prince Albert II of Monaco (2nd L), Prince Albert II of Monaco's fiancee, Charlene Wittstock (L) following his victory against his compatriot David Ferrer (R) during their final match at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Master tournament in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France, 17 April 2011. EPA/CHRISTOPHE KARABA |
Rafael Nadal considers himself one “lucky guy” after picking up his seventh successive Monte Carlo Masters title after beating fellow Spaniard David Ferrer 6-4 7-5 today.
The 24-year-old said it would have been “impossible to imagine” just a few years back that he could win seven titles in the tiny principality, but his straight sets victory over Ferrer in two hours and 16 minutes completed that monumental haul.
The world No.1 has good reason to be “enjoying everything” right now, having only lost one match in Monte Carlo – and that was back in 2003 when, as a 16-year-old, he made his debut at the Masters 1000 tournament.
Incredibly, Nadal’s record at the event now reads 39-1 after he recorded his 37th straight victory there for his first title of the season. He had lost in the Qatar semifinals, while Ferrer defeated him in the Australian Open quarters, before he recorded final losses to the on-fire Novak Djokovic in Miami and Indian Wells.
But Nadal was never really in trouble against the world No.6 on a beautiful day at the Monte Carlo Country Club, although the first set did take 74 minutes to complete.
The pair shared early breaks, with Ferrer playing a feeble backhand into the net to give up the first, before recovering to produce a perfect drop shot that caught Nadal flat-footed.
However, Nadal broke Ferrer’s serve again with a tremendous cross-court backhand on the clay, before holding his own serve to take the first set.
The Mallorcan kept up the pressure on his opponent early in the second set and broke once more in game three after playing an excellent forehand.
The match looked all over then, but Ferrer refused to buckle and showed great spirit to break back as Nadal played a backhand wide.
Nadal looked stunned and began making mistakes, but nerves seemed to get the better of Ferrer and he in turn produced a series of unforced errors to gift The King of Clay the 11th game for a 6-5 lead. Nadal, as expected, then served out the match for the title.
Nadal is building up to the French Open and believes today’s victory was “very important” as he eyes up a sixth title at Roland Garros.
However, he removes pressure from himself by refusing to “think about defending points” from previous seasons, considering that the real goal is to “just keep trying to improve”.
Today’s victory supplied Nadal with the 44th trophy of his career, with a record 19 of those titles coming in Masters 1000 tournaments. More interesting is the fact he has collected 30 clay-court titles to tie for third spot in the Open era with countryman Manuel Orantes and Swedish legend Bjorn Borg.
Guillermo Vilas, of Argentina, is No.1 on 45 clay-court titles, while Austrian Thomas Muster follows in second on 40.
Nadal, meanwhile, will be gearing up for another of his favorite tournaments, the Barcelona Open, which begins tomorrow. The superstar has won five out of the last six titles in Catalonia.
Rafael Nadal's first-round singles match against Richard Gasquet is not on Monday's China Open schedule, but the world No. 2 will be back in action in a different capacity. After being sidelined for three months with a wrist injury, Nadal is teaming up with Pablo Andujar in the doubles draw and they will kick off their campaign against Tomas Berdych and John Isner.
We exaggerate, slightly, but in all likelihood, this will be the week the WTA Race ends. Beijing is worth 1000 points, and it's mandatory, meaning that it's worth about twice as much to the players as every other event. And with the top nine players, minus Li Na, qualifying for Singapore, and a big, big gap between #9 and #10, chances are very good that things will be over after this.
Two familiar foes with a long history will meet in the Red Rock Open Pro singles final on Sunday, as American Madison Brengle will take on Michelle Larcher De Brito of Portugal. Brengle, the No. 4 seed from Dover, Del., ended qualifier Kateryna Bondarenko’s run of six consecutive wins in Las Vegas in a powerful 6-4, 6-2 semifinal victory in the USTA Women’s $50,000 Pro Circuit event taking place at the Red Rock Country Club.
He's back! Yes, for the first time since Wimbledon, Rafael Nadal is playing tennis again. Always one of the best spots on the annual calendar, the Beijing-Tokyo week will be especially intriguing this time around. That’s because Nadal is returning to the court after being out of action for three months.