Joy of six: Rafa wins in Monte Carlo
Originally published on: 18/04/10 16:28
Rafael Nadal made history by becoming the first players in ATP Tour history to win six consecutive titles at the same event with a 6-0 6-1 demolition of compatriot Fernando Verdasco in the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters final.
The Spaniard wept with joy at the end of the match after ending an eleven-month wait for a title following a tumultuous year both on and off-court.
But after reaching the semi-finals in both Indian Wells and Miami last month, the four-time Roland Garros champion’s return to clay has seen his game return to its formidable best.
Nadal dropped just 14 games in his five matches in Monte Carlo, beating Verdasco by the same scoreline he had despatched Thiemo de Bakker and Michael Berrer earlier in the week.
There were concerns that Verdasco had picked up a neck injury at 5-0 in the first that was hampering his serve, but in truth the chances of him converting his first Masters 1000 final appearance into a victory had disappeared long before that.
Nadal was imperious, winning the first seven points against his Davis Cup teammate’s serve. His forehand crashed just inside the aseline relentlessly, and his backhand was the source of some inspired passes, particularly cross-court.
Verdasco did what he could to break Nadal down, trying to blast flat balls past him in the opening exchanges and, when that proved too costly a tactic, building points patiently from the back. Neither strategy was effectve.
Verdasco, who will return to the ATP top ten off the back of his first run beyond the last eight of a Masters 1000 event, did at least claim the rally of the match in a marathon game six, turning to drop shots, lobs, some gutsy defensive work and two smashes, before falling to his knees in mock celebration.
But the game went to Nadal, who closed out the match on his first championship point a game later, falling to the clay before meeting Verdasco at the net, the relief and emotion etched into his face.
Nadal now moves level with Roger Federer on 16 Masters titles – one behind Andre Agassi’s record of 17. Next up is Barcelona, and, incredibly, a second chance to experience the unmatched joy of six.