Rafael Nadal claimed a ninth Monte Carlo Masters title with victory over Frenchman Gael Monfils, BBC reports. Nadal, who beat Andy Murray in the last four, won 7-5 5-7 6-0, his 68th win from 100 finals on the ATP World Tour.
A double fault from Monfils, 29, closed out the first set in Nadal’s favour and the Spaniard recovered from losing the second to see off the 13th seed in two hours 46 minutes. The 29-year-old has now won clay-court titles in each of the past 13 years.
Nadal won eight consecutive titles before losing the 2013 final to Novak Djokovic and called his first Masters honour since Madrid two years ago “so special”.
“I had a tough season last year, but I’ve had better preparation this year – even with a tough start to the season,” added Nadal, who withdrew from last month’s Miami Open with a virus.
“It’s great to win a Masters title again. I hope this week will help me a lot.” It is a record-equaling 28th Masters title for Nadal, bringing him alongside top-ranked Djokovic, but a third Masters final defeat for Monfils.
They conceded 34 break points between them with Nadal converting eight of his 21 chances to edge his opponent, who managed five from 13. Monfils, a runner-up in the Rotterdam Open in February, earned the backing of the Monte Carlo Country Club crowd as he tested Nadal throughout.
But having earlier saved set point, the pressure told on the Frenchman and he double-faulted to hand fifth seed Nadal a close-fought opening set. The pair traded five breaks of serve in a gruelling second, but it was Monfils who edged the former world number one to level.
Nadal then took control of the decider and raced into a 5-0 lead before landing a forehand winner at match point to win for the ninth time in Monte Carlo as he builds to next month’s French Open, which he will be seeking to win for a 10th time.