Tue, Apr 24, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Rafael Nadal still the king on clay in Monte Carlo

Reuters, MONTE CARLO

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns to Rafael Nadal of Spain in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters in Monaco on Sunday.

Photo: Reuters

Rafael Nadal relished a perfect day in Monte Carlo as he ended a seven-match losing streak to Novak Djokovic at one of his favorite venues by overpowering the mentally exhausted Serb.

The Spaniard clinched a record eighth consecutive crown at the clay-court Masters event by thrashing the world no. 1 6-3, 6-1 in 78 minutes.

“It was very important to break the bad [losing streak]. So was important to win the tournament another time,” Nadal told a press conference. “Break that situation, winning a Masters 1000, one of my favorites, everything’s perfect today.”

On a sunny afternoon, Nadal enjoyed his 42nd win in a row at the glamorous venue by the Mediterranean, where he only lost once in 2003 and has been unbeaten since 2005.

“The Monte Carlo is the most beautiful 1000 tournament for me. To start the clay-court season winning here is an amazing feeling,” he said.

Djokovic, who aims to prevent his rival from setting another record by winning a seventh French Open in June, praised his opponent.

“My head’s down. There’s not many words you can normally say. Fantastic, impressive,” said the Serb, who will be seeking his fourth Grand Slam title in a row in Paris. “The way he’s been treating this sport is a real example of a champion ... He’s been achieving so much. Every year he comes back and he looks like he’s the first time in this place.”

Nadal played better and better throughout the week as his injured knee, which forced him to pull out of his Sony Ericsson Masters semi-final last month, stood up well.

“My knee is not limiting my movement. I can run 100 percent. When you feel you can run to every ball, the pain never is a problem. Today, that’s the situation and I’m very happy,” Nadal said.

As Nadal heads to Barcelona to defend another clay-court title, Djokovic’s schedule looks more uncertain as the Serb struggles to deal with the death of his grandfather on Thursday.

The world No. 1, who had beaten Nadal the last seven times they played, including twice on clay at last year’s Madrid and Rome Masters events, never threatened the Spaniard in a windy Monte Carlo.

“I just didn’t have any emotional energy left in me,” Djokovic said. “I’ve never been caught up in this kind of emotional situation before ... I just hope to have enough time now to regroup, and to rest and to recharge the batteries and move on. I need to talk with my people and see what is the best solution for me to feel better, to get better.”

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