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Unstoppable Nadal Captures Sixth Straight Title

Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Rafael Nadal© AFP/Getty ImagesRafael Nadal has a 37-12 record in tour-level finals.

Rafael Nadal became the first player in the Open Era to win a tournament title for six straight years on Sunday. The World No. 3 defeated Spanish compatriot Fernando Verdasco 6-0, 6-1 to extend his reign at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tournament. Albert II, Sovereign Prince of Monaco, present the trophy to Nadal after the first all-Spanish final in the Principality since 2002.

Watch Final Highlights

Second seed Nadal snapped an 11-month title drought, stretching back to the 2009 Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome, with victory in 86 minutes. He claimed €434,000 in prize money and 1,000 South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings point in his quest to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at London in November. Verdasco, appearing in his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final, picked up €203,000 and 600 points.

The 14 games Nadal lost at the tournament in five matches was the fewest he has dropped en route to a title in his career. Last year at the Barcelona Open BancSabadell he won the title, losing only 18 games (in four matches).

"For me [today] is very emotional," admitted Nadal, who equalled the all-time title record of England's Reggie Doherty (1897-99,  1902-04) at the tournament. "[It] is probably my favourite tournament. I love this tournament. [To] win here another time is a dream for me. The atmosphere here is unbelievable. I feel like [I'm at] home. No one match during seven years [have] I felt the crowd against me. I just can say thank you very much everybody."

Watch Nadal Interview  | Watch Sunday's Hot Shot

Sixth seed Verdasco got off to the worst possible start, committing six straight unforced errors. Nadal confirmed the opening-game service break with a glorious crosscourt backhand pass off an angled volley, before taking a 3-0 lead despite Verdasco battling back from 0/40. At the change of ends, Verdasco called for a trainer to treat a neck complaint.

Intent on peppering Verdasco’s backhand, staying clear of his potent forehand, Nadal was relentless in keeping the rallies as short as possible. Two straight forehand winners down the line helped Nadal to a third service break and a 5-0 lead. He duly captured the 36-minute first-set with a hold to 30, when Verdasco fired a forehand wide.

Verdasco received appreciative applause from the 10,080 spectators crammed around Court Central, when he saved three break points to clinch the first game of the second set with an ace. While it may have settled his nerves, Nadal continued to apply the pressure.

In a 14-point third-game, Verdasco managed to save three break point opportunities but was unable to prevent Nadal from striking a running crosscourt forehand pass for a 2-1 lead. Minutes later, the Madrid native was left standing in no-man’s land with his hands on his hips, when a good backhand approach was dispatched by Nadal with a backhand slice winner that glided inches over the net. Nadal went on to take a 4-1 lead with a break to love.

Verdasco failed to capitalise on six break point opportunities in the sixth game, although was allowed a minor celebration in setting up his sixth point when he outwitted Nadal – scrambling behind the baseline in windy conditions – to hit a forehand drop shot winner. He fell to his knees, earning warm applause. But minutes later, Nadal recorded his 32nd consecutive win at the Monte-Carlo Country Club with a forehand winner down the line on his second match point.

Watch Verdasco Interview

"If you see the score, [there] is a big difference," said Verdasco. "But in some games I had some chances to be closer, to make him think a little bit more. But I think that he had unbelievable day and he played really good. I also didn't maybe have a good day, because I was trying to force and made more mistakes than unusual."

The 23-year-old Nadal has now captured 16 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophies, which draws him level with ATP World Tour No. 1 Roger Federer and one shy of all-time leader Andre Agassi with 18 titles. The 13-game Monte-Carlo final was the fewest in an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title-match (since 1990).

Nadal has won 54 consecutive matches on clay in the month of April and he's won 10 titles during that stretch, six in Monte-Carlo and four at the Barcelona Open BancSabadell. His last loss on clay in April came on 8 April 2005, to Igor Andreev in the Valencia quarter-finals. He ranks seventh overall with 26 trophies in the all-time list of clay-court title leaders, 19 titles behind Guillermo Vilas (45).

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