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Nadal reins in Spain

Rafael Nadal continued his record-breaking run at the Barcelona Open by claiming his eighth consecutive title against Nicolas Almagro on the weekend. The former world-number-one downing his Spanish compatriot 6-4 6-3, to bounce back from the disappointment of losing last week’s Monte Carlo final.

Despite the ease the straight-sets scoreline suggests, Nadal had to bring some of his best tennis as he continued his comeback from injury. The Spanish nationals overcoming some inclement weather throughout to put on a masterclass in clay court tennis for their home fans.

Almagro started the stronger of the Davis Cup teammates, breaking Nadal twice in the opening exchanges to jump to a 3-0 lead. However, Nadal eventually began to find his range and assert his power game on the rallies, fighting back to level the scores.

The set was defined by its epic ninth game, in which an extended deuce finally went the way of Nadal with a customary winner to the corner of the court. He went on to serve out the set and never looked back, closing out the match in just under two hours.

The win extends Nadal’s undefeated win streak against Almagro to ten. It was also his 39th consecutive victory at the Barcelona event, the same amount of clay court titles he’s now won. It was the 26-year-olds fourth title of the season and will send an ominous warning to his rivals ahead of next month’s French Open.

Speaking after lifting the trophy, Nadal said “I’m very happy. This has been an important week for me. To win here again is a great joy after everything I’ve been through.”

The current world-number-five was referring to the knee injuries that have plagued his career in recent times, forcing him to miss seven months of the men’s tour. However since his return in February Nadal has made the final of all six events he has contested, also winning in Brazil, Mexico and California.

Almagro said after the match, “I’m used to losing to Rafa but matches like this are what makes you a better player. I started well but after it really started to rain the balls got heavy and Rafa found his game in the conditions.”

The countrymen will now contest another hometown event when the Madrid Masters begins next weekend. We’ll have all the action from the tournament’s biggest match-ups and don’t forget you’ll be able to catch all the majestic tennis of the French Open next month at Strathfield Sports Club.

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