Nadal Makes History… Again!

Rafael Nadal continued to build upon his extraordinary legacy at Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters on Sunday when he captured his 11th trophy, which represented a record 31st ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown.

The Spanish superstar, who boasts a 396-35 record on clay courts (.919) according to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, beat Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-3, 6-2 in a one-hour and 34-minute final. It was their third clash in a red dirt title match — also 2014 Mutua Madrid Open and 2016 Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.

The victory improves Nadal match record to 11-1 on the 2018 season and means that the 31-year-old will begin his 171st week at No. 1 in ATP Rankings on Monday, breaking a tie with American John McEnroe (170 weeks). Nadal, with 76 career titles (54 on clay), is now also one trophy shy of McEnroe’s singles haul (77). He will now travel to Barcelona, where he is a 10-time titlist, having won a career-best 36 consecutive sets on clay.

His Serene Highness Albert II, Sovereign Prince of Monaco, and his wife, Her Serene Highness The Princess of Monaco, presented Nadal with the Monte-Carlo trophy in front of a capacity crowd on Court Rainier III. Nadal received €935,385 in prize money and earned 1,000 ATP Rankings points.

ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Title Leaders

Player Masters 1000 Titles Monte-Carlo Titles
(1) Rafael Nadal 31 11
(2) Novak Djokovic 30 2
(3) Roger Federer 27 0
(4) Andre Agassi 17 0
(5) Andy Murray 14 0

Nishikori saved one break point in a 16-point second game of the pair’s 12th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting, prior to clinching Nadal’s serve with a delicate backhand winner down the line for 2-1. But Nishikori looked deflated one game later when he double-faulted to gift Nadal a way back into the set. Nadal didn’t need another invitation as he won four of the next five games finishing the 56-minute opener with a trademark forehand approach down the line.

Once Nadal cleaned the right tramline with a crosscourt forehand winner to break Nishikori in the third game, the second set was one-way traffic. From 0-1, Nadal won five straight games, including a service break at 1-3 courtesy of Nadal forehand error.

“I knew it was going to be tough to maintain my level, because he hits all the balls back,” said Nishikori. “It was not easy to dominate the points all the time. I knew it was going to be tough even though I was up a break. I kind of run out of the gas, especially second set. How he plays… He makes every point. He makes it tough. I think he was also playing great tennis. It was not easy to maintain my level till the end today.”

Most Titles At A Single Tournament

Player Tournament Titles Won
Rafael Nadal Monte-Carlo 11
Rafael Nadal Barcelona 10
Rafael Nadal Roland Garros 10
Roger Federer Halle 9

Nadal lost just 21 games in his five matches — against Aljaz Bedene, Karen Khachanov, Dominic Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov and Nishikori — this week at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, where he has a 68-4 record with 12 final appearances. It is the fifth time he has won the Monte-Carlo title without dropping a set (also 2008-10 and 2012).

This week, Nadal was competing in just his second tournament of the season, having sustained a hip injury during his Australian Open quarter-final against Marin Cilic in January.

The 28-year-old Nishikori was contesting the fourth Masters 1000 championship match of his career (0-4), after runner-up finishes to Nadal at 2014 Madrid and to Djokovic at 2016 Miami Open presented by Itau and Rogers Cup in Toronto. The Japanese, who may meet Nadal in next week’s Barcelona quarter-finals, received €458,640 in prize money and earned 600 ATP Rankings points

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