Nadal targets Barcelona after Monte Carlo win
MONTE CARLO: Rafael Nadal will approach his home tournament on the Barcelona clay with fresh confidence after securing a historic sixth straight Monte Carlo Masters title on Sunday.
The king of clay retained his crown by outclassing Spanish compatriot Fernando Verdasco 6-0, 6-1 to lift his first title in 50 weeks.
In doing so Nadal became the first man in modern tennis history to win one event six times in succession and he will now look to repeat the trick in Barcelona.
"For me this is very emotional, this is probably my favorite tournament. I love this tournament. To win here another time is a dream for me," he said.
"To win six times for me is unbelievable. I never expect something like that."
He improved to 16-6 his record at the Masters 1000 level as he claimed the 26th clay title of his career, having lost his only two clay finals against Roger Federer, in Hamburg in 2007 and Madrid in 2009.
"When you don''t win for a while, and you are playing really well, you really want to win," said Nadal. "You are focused more than ever.
"Maybe for that reason I won easier than usual. But that''s not normal. I''m going to have lots of problems on clay in the future."
Verdasco, now 0-10 against Nadal, again came away impressed.
"He had an unbelievable day and he played really good. He didn''t let me attack him at all, with balls really high and deep," said Verdasco.
"I also maybe didn''t have a good day. I was trying to force things and made more mistakes than usual.
"Today was my first Masters final. I had normal nerves before an important match. But they were nothing special."
With volcano ash from Iceland creating travel havoc and grounding air traffic across Europe, Nadal and his team will have to make the 500-kilometre journey to Barcelona by road.
He will receive a first-round bye and is likely to face his first match on Wednesday after bringing his unwelcome trophy drought to an end.
The four-time Roland Garros champion returned to form with one of the most brilliant efforts of his storied career, losing a total of just 14 games and winning three matches with the loss of just one game in each.
Victory in the final was Nadal''s 32nd straight win at Monte Carlo and he remains undefeated at the venue since 2003.
He dominated against Verdasco with seven breaks of serve while his opponent committed 32 unforced errors.
The sixth-seeded challenger looked threatening only once, in the marathon sixth game of the second set, as he forced the fighting Nadal to save five break points to move ahead 5-1.
A game later it was all over on the first match point as Nadal broke back for victory.