- ATP Tour
Awesome Nadal triumphs in Barcelona
Rafael Nadal continued his dominance at the Barcelona Open after the Spaniard beat Nicolas Almagro 6-4 6-3 to be crowned champion for an eighth time in nine years.
The Spaniard extended his tremendous winning streak to 39 matches at the event, and ends the week on a high following his defeat to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters last Sunday.
"I feel very happy to lift the trophy once again here in Barcelona. It means a lot especially after the difficult year I've had," Nadal, who returned to the circuit in February after seven months on the sidelines with a knee injury, said.
Accustomed to being the one to beat at the event, Nadal was forced to take a backseat early on in the final as Almagro made a fine start, taking the opening three games after some blistering groundstrokes.
The record seven-time French Open champion was yet to get a foothold in the contest, and Almagro sealed a double break with a forehand cross-court winner to stun his opponent and continue the dream start.
The undisputed king of clay finally woke up and immediately broke straight back to make it 3-1 when he unleashed a typical forehand winner down the line. Nadal was back into the groove when he held serve, and then was level at 3-3 when Almagro double-faulted to hand another break back.
Nadal soon made it four games on the spin and was able to close out the first set after coming through a tough ninth game - holding when Almagro was battling to keep the set alive.
Prior to the final Almagro had emerged second best from nine previous encounters, only claiming two sets in the process, and after he was unable to capitalise on his first set start he was desperate to make amends.
The first three games of the second set went with the server, but Nadal pounced in the fourth as Almagro overhit a backhand.
With the break consolidated at 4-1, Nadal pressed home his advantage, despite Almagro keeping up the pressure with his service games, to claim victory and title No. 8 in Barcelona.
"I am extremely satisfied about being able to defeat a player like Nico in straight sets in the final. I played better and better as the match went on and the break at 1-3 in the first set was vital for me. In the second set, things went smoother and I managed [to do] well in all the difficult moments," Nadal added.