ATP Barcelona Open: Rafael Nadal claims his eighth crown in Catalunya
Last Updated: 28/04/13 6:33pm
Rafael Nadal secured his eighth Barcelona Open title in nine years after dispatching Nicolas Almagro in straight sets.
After a rainy week in Catalunya it was the world No 5 who reigned supreme on Sunday afternoon with a 6-4 6-3 triumph in one hour and 32 minutes.
Nadal, who lost his eight-year winning record at Monte Carlo to world No 1 Novak Djokovic in Monte Carlo last week, was back to his best at his home tournament.
He took the opening set 6-4 after 53 minutes, but his fellow Spaniard would have been disappointed only to have taken two of his five break-point opportunities against the 'King of Clay'.
Nadal was taken aback as fourth seed Almagro made a whirlwind start to take a 3-0 lead playing an aggressive style of tennis to break in his first two service games in cloudy, drizzly conditions.
However, Nadal received a welcome boost when the rain arrived to disrupt play for a few minutes before finding his form and reeling 12th-ranked Almagro in with three of his next four service games to take the initiative back.
The 26-year-old, 11-time Grand Slam winner stepped up a gear in the second set, breaking twice in the opening four games before pulling clear to complete a handsome victory.
The French Open champion has now won 39 straight matches on the Real Club de Tenis's outdoor red clay, with his last loss coming 10 years ago.
He has also won four of six finals since returning from a knee injury that had kept him off the courts since last summer.
Meanwhile, Almagro is yet to beat Nadal in any of their 10 encounters, with eight of those defeats coming on clay. The 27-year-old from Murcia has also recorded just one win in 35 matches against the top five players in the world.
"I'm very happy," Nadal told a crowd which had huddled under umbrellas for the duration of the contest. "This has been an important week for me. To win here again is a great joy after everything I've been through."