Barcelona : Rafael Nadal’s winning streak continued as the top seed beat Kei Nishikori 6-4,7-5 to claim the Barcelona Open title for the ninth time in his remarkable career.
After winning the title in Monte Carlo last week, he continued his winning run despite a fightable effort from Nishikori, who was seeking to win in Barcelona for the third year in succession.
Known as “King of Clay” Nine times a French Open champion, Nadal was not at his best on his favorite surface last year but now appears to be right back on song ahead of his next tilt at Roland Garros glory in May.
Nishikori started good, but produced an error-strewn game to hand Nadal the early break for 3-1 in the first set.
US open finalist battled back with a number of searing forehands to level at 3-3, but Nadal crucially dug himself out a huge hole at 0-40 to move ahead 4-3 in his next service game.
And another wayward game from Nishikori handed Nadal the break he needed to seal the set 6-4.
Again Nishikori did manage to break at the first opportunity in the second set, but this time Nadal responded with his best tennis of the match to surge to within two games of victory at 4-1.
[quote]“It was a very close match,” Nadal said. There were a lot of chances for both of us, but I think I have been solid.[/quote]
[quote]When you play against players with such a high level, the match is often decided by a few moments. So I feel happy that I handled all these important moments well mentally.[/quote]
This tournament win means Nadal has won the Monte Carlo open and the Barcelona open in quick succession in recent weeks, finally putting doubts to rest about whether he can return to his pre-injury form, after such comfortable and dominant performances on clay.