The last time Rafael Nadal has lost in Monte Carlo was when he was 16 years old. Since then whenever he has played current world number one has gone home with the title. Today the six time defending champion, who was the first man to ever win a tournament six consecutive times, has claimed his seventh title beating compatriot David Ferrer 6-4, 7-5 in a baseline battle between clay court specialists.
Initially Ferrer looked to be the more aggressive of the two as Nadal seemed to struggle to find his range. Rafa continued to pepper short balls and David exploited this problem getting two break points on Nadal’s opening service game. Rafa elevated his game, holding serve and then striking first to break for a 2-1 lead as Ferrer managed only 2 of 13 first serves.
Ferrer stayed aggressive and punished Rafa for every short ball and broke back immediately. David has long been known for his scrappy fighting abilities and despite his ongoing struggle with first serve he fended off multiple break points before again being broken.
Nadal, desperately trying to consolidate his 3-2 lead, couldn’t buy a first serve and quickly fell to a 0-40 deficit. After just over 10 minutes he finally held with the help of two first serves but Ferrer continued to push on, relentless with his aggressive play.
At this point the serve was a huge issue for both players, Nadal making 50% , Ferrer just 24% as his unforced errors crept slowly up, a side effect of his aggressive risky play. Nadal was not immune to the unforced errors, particularly on the forehand wing, failing to execute his bread and butter shots.
The crowd, mostly uninspired, stayed quiet but Nadal let out a “Si!” as he held another arduous game for a 5-3 lead.
75 minutes later Rafael Nadal took the first set 6-4 and was just one set away from a record breaking seventh consecutive Monte Carlo title.
In the first game of the second set Ferrer was again forced to fight off multiple break points as you began to feel the inevitable drawing near. Ferrer ignored what we could all sense and fought as if his life depended on it. He valiantly fought off four break points but could not fight off a fifth as a sensational down the line forehand from a more aggressive Rafa gave him a 2-1 lead.
Somehow Nadal seemed to lose his way and allow Ferrer to recoup the break of serve and level the set at four all. Energized Ferrer moved ahead to 5-4. He simply refused to give up.
Finally Nadal screamed “Vamos!” after he held for five all before breaking Ferrer and serving for the title, taking it home for the seventh time in his glittering career. It was the first title for Nadal since October.
It wasn’t a great final with 67 unforced errors between the two players and less that 50% of David Ferrer’s first serves in but it doesn’t change the fact that Nadal will go down in history as the King of Clay.