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PHOTOS/VIDEO: Rafael Nadal - The Champion of Barcelona Open 2016!
Rafael Nadal dethroned two-time defending champion Kei Nishikori on Sunday at the Barcelona Open BancSabadell to clinch his ninth title with a 6-4, 7-5 victory in two hours and four minutes. The 8,042 spectators saw an exciting match at the Real Club Tenis Barcelona-1899.
In notching his 49th clay-court crown, the top-seeded Spaniard drew level with Guillermo Vilas atop the Open Era list. Nadal added a ninth trophy to his stunning haul in Barcelona, and first since 2013, ending Nishikori's two-year reign. He previously prevailed from 2005-'09 and 2011-'13.
“It was a very close match,” Nadal said. “There were a lot of chances for both of us but I think I have been solid.
“When you play against players with such a high level, the match is often decided by a few moments. So I feel happy that I handled all these important moments well mentally.”
Nadal was on the front foot from the start, breaking in the fourth game for a 3-1 lead behind an offensive onslaught. Nishikori executed his game plan from the baseline in immediately drawing level, but it was his Spanish opponent who would have the last laugh in the opener, breaking for 6-4.
Nadal did well to recover after being broken in the opening game of the second set, reeling off four straight games to take a seemingly insurmountable 4-1 lead. But Nishikori would not go down without a fight, breaking back in the seventh game and consolidating for 4-all. Nadal, however, would not be denied his return to the Barcelona throne, prevailing on his second match point after just over two hours. He fired 21 winners in total and benefitted from 34 Nishikori unforced errors.
The win comes exactly one week after the World No. 5 claimed an unprecedented ninth crown at the Monte-Carlo Masters. Also a nine-time winner at Roland Garros, he is the only player to win as many titles in a single tournament in the Open Era. Nadal takes home 500 Emirates ATP Rankings points and €460,000 in prize money.
“I have been working so hard to enjoy moments like this," Nadal said. "The fact that I’m playing at home is always even more special. I’m very happy and I feel lucky to enjoy this again.”
Nishikori, meanwhile, was bidding for a 12th ATP World Tour title in his 18th final. He saw his 14-match win streak at the Trofeo Conde de Godo snapped.
Source: Barcelona Open
Photos: AFP; AP; Getty Images; EFE; Mundo Deportivo