at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Monte Carlo - Rafael Nadal blazed to an eighth consecutive Monte Carlo Masters title as he ended a seven-match losing streak against Novak Djokovic with an emphatic 6-3, 6-1 victory on Sunday.
The Spaniard wrapped up a disappointingly one-sided contest with an ace after 78 minutes to win his first title since last year's French Open and send put down an ominous marker for the rest of the claycourt season.
On a windy and sunny afternoon by the Mediterranean, the world number two became the first player ever to win a tournament eight times in a row as he clinched his 47th ATP Tour title, including 20 Masters events.
“It's my favourite tournament in the world,” Nadal said on centre court after Monaco's Prince Albert handed him the trophy.
“You make me feel incredible feelings.”
Nadal took the title without dropping a set for the fourth time, having also achieved that feat in 2007, 2008 and 2010.
His record at the glamorous Monte Carlo Country Club now stands at 44-1 - his only loss coming against Argentina's Guillermo Coria in 2003 when he was playing the event for the first time as a 16-year-old.
Nadal was playing his first tournament since he had to pull out of the Miami Masters semifinal last month because of a knee injury and his level of performance got better and better as the week progressed.
World number one Djokovic, who beat Nadal in an epic Australian Open final at the start of the year and who dominated the Spaniard last year, winning six finals in a row against him, including on clay in Madrid and Rome, played a poor match.
“I'm sorry about my performance today,” the Monaco-based Serb, whose grandfather died during the tournament, said in French on the court. “Congratulations to Rafa, he deserves to win. Me, I'll be back next year.”
Djokovic, who calls Nadal the “king of claycourt” despite twice getting the better of him on the red dust last year, struggled to mount a challenge as he made 25 unforced errors compared to 10 from his opponent.
Nadal broke serve for the first time in the third game of the first set and denied Djokovic any chances to break back as he closed out the opening set.
The Mallorcan upped the pace in the second and Djokovic could not live with him.
A Djokovic backhand floated long to gift Nadal a break in the second game and although Djokovic did break while trailing 4-0 it was only delaying the inevitable. - Reuters