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Nadal claims Monte Carlo title

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 17-04-2016 skysports.com

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Getty
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Rafael Nadal overcame a spirited Gael Monfils to win a ninth Monte Carlo Masters title on Sunday. 

The Spanish great won 7-5 5-7 6-0 in the capital of Monaco to bring up a 13th consecutive season with a clay court title. His 28th Masters 1000 crown draws him level with Novak Djokovic at the top of the all-time list.

Nadal, the greatest player on the red dirt of all-time, was forced to use every tool in his arsenal to overcome flamboyant French ace Monfils who regularly threatened to upset him and delight his home crowd in the Principality.

Both men struggled to assert themselves when serving, making for a tit-for-tat encounter with break points ominously looming around every corner.

From the very first game where Monfils hit a nonchalant drop shot, both players demonstrated an ability to find the killer shot. Nadal blasted a winner from the baseline for the first break to go 3-1 up, and after Monfils returned the favour, the Spaniard gritted his teeth and edged 5-3 ahead against the serve.

Monfils, not always recognised for his battling qualities, refused to wilt and leathered a scintillating winner to break back for 5-4, then held his serve. Nadal would the final say though, breaking at the final opportunity to take the opening set.

The world No 16 from Paris broke once more for 2-1 in the second set then held his own serve from the brink of failure. With service on the clay surface proving more difficult as muscles grew weary, three consecutive breaks resulted in the second set going to 4-4. Monfils drew a deeper breath, broke once more and forced a decider.

Monfils, by this point, diminished physically and no longer had the zip in the legs. Nadal strung together a hat-trick of breaks between his own service games to whitewash his opponent in the third set.

The result extended Nadal's head-to-head record against Monfils to 12-2 - his only two defeats to the Frenchman have come on Qatar's hard courts.

Nadal now heads to his home country for the Barcelona Open, where he will be the top seed and find defending champion Kei Nishikori as his biggest rival.

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