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Updated: 1 week 2 days ago

Moët Moment: Nadal Wins Monte-Carlo 2018

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 6:22am
Rafael Nadal celebrates winning the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, for a record 11th time, in this Moët Moment. Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images.

Goffin Upbeat At Players' Party Barcelona 2018

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 5:42am
Watch as David Goffin shares his views on his recent form, the upcoming events on the ATP World Tour and the unique blend of modern and traditional features at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.

ATP Rankings Movers: Nishikori On The Comeback

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 12:39am

No. 22 Kei Nishikori, +14
Nishikori showed that he is well on his way to returning to the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings with his run to the final of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (l. to Nadal). The former World No. 4 was unseeded in the Principality, but battled his way through the draw with four three-set wins in five matches en route to the final.

Read More: Nishikori: 'I'm Almost There'

The Japanese right-hander beat No. 18 Tomas Berdych, Sydney International titlist Daniil Medvedev and Italian Andreas Seppi to reach the quarter-finals, where Nishikori had to raise his level and he did. The 28-year-old fought past two Top 5 opponents – Marin Cilic and Alexander Zverev – to make his fourth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final.

No. 3 Alexander Zverev, +1
The German celebrated his 21st birthday by clinching his best finish yet in Monte-Carlo. Zverev outlasted Frenchman Richard Gasquet in three sets to make the semi-finals (l. to Nishikori) and guarantee his return to his career-high position in the ATP Rankings of No. 3.

After a slow start to the Masters 1000 season in Indian Wells (l. to Joao Sousa, R2), Zverev, a two-time Masters 1000 titlist (2017 Rome, Montreal) has returned to regular proceedings by reaching the Miami Open presented by Itau final (l. to Isner) and the semi-finals in Monte-Carlo.

No. 29 Richard Gasquet, +5
The Frenchman appeared healthy and able to produce some of his best tennis in Monte-Carlo, which is especially encouraging for Gasquet, who endured a frustrating number of stops and starts in 2017. Gasquet missed the first five Masters 1000 tournaments last year due to appendicitis surgery and a back injury.

But in Monte-Carlo, the 31-year-old right-hander dropped only three games against then-No. 15 Diego Schwartzman, before defeating German Mischa Zverev, Alexander's older brother, for his 500th victory, becoming the first Frenchman to achieve the milestone.

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No. 35 Philipp Kohlschreiber, +5
The German veteran again showed his clay-court prowess in Monte-Carlo. Kohlschreiber, who has won six of his eight titles on clay, beat Houston finalist Tennys Sandgren of the U.S. and 2017 finalist Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain to make the third round (l. to Dimitrov).

No. 55 Andreas Seppi, +7
The Italian was a home favourite for the Monte-Carlo faithful, and he did not disappoint. The 34-year-old qualified by beating #NextGenATP Aussie Alex de Minaur and Marcel Granollers of Spain. Seppi then showed the form that helped him beat Alexander Zverev in Rotterdam earlier this year. The Italian eliminated Marrakech finalist Kyle Edmund of Great Britain and Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez before falling to Nishikori in the third round.

Dominant Halys Streaks To Second Title Of Season

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 11:19pm
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A LOOK BACK
Ganjiang New Area International Challenger (Nanchang, China): How good was Quentin Halys in Nanchang? The third-seeded Frenchman averaged less than six games lost per match, eventually blasting to the title with a 6-3, 6-2 win over countryman Calvin Hemery on Sunday.

At the age of 21, Halys is one of France's brightest young stars, along with Hemery and 19-year-old Corentin Moutet. Up to No. 110 in the ATP Rankings, his victory on the clay of Nanchang was his second Challenger crown this year. Also the champion on the indoor hard courts of Quimper, Halys now owns an impressive 13-4 record on the circuit in 2018.

Elizabeth Moore Sarasota Open (Sarasota, Florida, U.S.A.): What a moment for Hugo Dellien. What a moment for Bolivian tennis! The Trinidad, Bolivia, native became just the second player from his country to lift a trophy - and the first since 1983 - on the ATP Challenger Tour. Dellien triumphed on the green clay of Sarasota, rallying past Facundo Bagnis 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 in Sunday's title match.

Welcome to the club, @hugo_dellien! The 24-year-old celebrates his maiden #ATPChallenger title in Sarasota.

First player from

Scouting Report: 20 Things To Watch In Barcelona & Budapest

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 8:16pm

After an exciting start to the European clay-court season at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, the clay swing continues in Barcelona and Budapest. World No. 1 Rafael Nadal leads the field at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, with three other Top 10 players as well as Novak Djokovic looking to challenge the 10-time champion.

Frenchman Lucas Pouille, who won in Montpellier and advanced to the final in Marseille and Dubai earlier this year, is the top seed and defending champion at the Gazprom Hungarian Open. There is once again a strong field in the tournament's second year.

View Draws: Barcelona | Budapest

10 THINGS TO WATCH IN BARCELONA

1) Best in Barcelona: Ten-time champion Rafael Nadal and former World No. 1 Novak Djokovic lead a star-studded field at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. Also competing at the ATP World Tour 500 event are Top 10 players Grigor Dimitrov, Dominic Thiem and David Goffin, as well as former Barcelona champions Kei Nishikori, Fernando Verdasco and Tommy Robredo.

2) Pista Rafa Nadal: Nadal will likely play all his matches this week on the court named after him in 2017. With a 53-3 record in Barcelona, the Spaniard is the only player in ATP World Tour history to win at least 10 titles at an event, also capturing 11 on the clay of Monte-Carlo and 10 at Roland Garros. Nadal has won eight of his 10 Barcelona titles without dropping a set, including in 2016 and 2017.

Read More & Watch: Nadal Clinches La Undécima

3) No Room for Error: Nadal needs to sweep titles in Barcelona and Madrid to remain No. 1 in the ATP Rankings. Otherwise, Roger Federer will reclaim No. 1. Nadal’s only opportunity to add ATP Rankings points through Roland Garros is in Rome, where he lost in the quarter-finals last year.

4) Wild Development: Djokovic will make his second Barcelona appearance after accepting a wild card. As an 18-year-old, he lost in the first round 12 years ago to Daniel Gimeno-Traver. Djokovic is 5-4 in 2018, and pushed World No. 7 Dominic Thiem in a three-set thriller in Monte-Carlo. For the second consecutive week, Djokovic is drawn in the same quarter as Nadal. Last week, the former World No. 1 did not get the opportunity to set a 51st meeting with the Spaniard after his loss to Thiem.

5) Feet of Clay: Thiem has won seven of his nine tour-level titles and reached 11 of his 14 finals on clay courts. The Austrian defeated then-No. 1 Andy Murray in the Barcelona semi-finals last year before falling to Nadal. Thiem and Stan Wawrinka are the only men to beat each member of the ‘Big Four’ on clay.

Read Preview: Nadal, Djokovic In Stacked Quarter In Barcelona

6) Come Together: Dimitrov and Goffin were opponents and doubles partners in the Monte-Carlo quarter-finals last week. They met in the biggest final of both men’s careers at the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals. Dimitrov emerged with the title and owns a 7-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head series advantage against Goffin. Dimitrov is the No. 2 seed in Barcelona and Goffin No. 4.

7) Feeling at Home: Nishikori returns to Barcelona after missing the tournament in 2017 due to a right wrist injury. The former World No. 4 has won 14 of his past 15 matches at the event, including back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015. His winning streak ended in the 2016 final against Nadal.

8) Asian Sensation: Hyeon Chung of South Korea passed Nishikori in the ATP Rankings on 19 March to become the top-ranked Asian, ending the Japanese player’s seven-year reign. The 21-year-old Chung is 18-7 this season after ending 2017 as champion of the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals.

9) Spanish Armada: Thirteen Spaniards are in the field, including the 2010 champion Verdasco, 2004 champion Robredo, No. 5 seed Pablo Carreno Busta, No. 8 seed Roberto Bautista Agut, No. 10 seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas and No. 12 seed Feliciano Lopez. Verdasco, the No. 15 seed, will go for his 500th tour-level win in his opening match against German Peter Gojowczyk or Argentine Guido Pella.

10) Doubles Depth: The Top 8 players in the ATP Doubles Rankings are in Barcelona, including three-time winners and Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, as well as Australian Open champions Oliver Marach  Mate Pavic. Lukasz Kubot/Marcelo Melo (8-6) and Henri Kontinen/John Peers (5-5) are also competing.

10 THINGS TO WATCH IN BUDAPEST

1) Hungary for More: The ATP World Tour returns to Budapest for the second straight year with the Gazprom Hungarian Open. Inaugural champion Lucas Pouille and runner-up Aljaz Bedene are back and joined by local favourite Marton Fucsovics and #NextGenATP star Denis Shapovalov.

2) Flair for Drama: Pouille has saved match point en route to three of his five ATP World Tour titles, including last year in Budapest. The Frenchman fought off two match points in his opener against Jiri Vesely before beating Bedene for the title. Pouille is the No. 1 seed for the second consecutive year after breaking into the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings on 19 March.

3) Feet of Clay: Bedene won 16 straight matches at all levels entering the 2017 Budapest final. He’s back to his best on clay in 2018, defeating Diego Schwartzman en route to the Buenos Aires final and Pablo Carreno Busta to reach the Rio de Janeiro quarter-finals. Bedene is seeded fifth this week.

4) Hometown Hero: When Fucsovics played 2017 Budapest, he was a 154th-ranked wild card. One year later, he is seeded sixth and ranked a career-high No. 59. Fucsovics is the first Hungarian man in the Top 100 since Attila Savolt in 2003. At the Australian Open, he became the first Hungarian to reach the Round of 16 at a Grand Slam event since Balazs Taroczy at 1984 Roland Garros.

5) Next Big Thing: Also on the rise is Shapovalov, who was in the midst of a seven-match losing streak on the ATP Challenger Tour when he arrived at last year's Gazprom Hungarian Open. The 19-year-old is the No. 4 seed in Budapest, marking the first time that he has been seeded in an ATP World Tour event.

6) 500 Wins: Richard Gasquet earned the 500th win of his career to reach the Monte-Carlo quarter-finals last week. The 31-year-old is the first Frenchman and 47th player overall to earn 500 or more wins. Gasquet, the No. 3 seed, will make his Budapest debut on Wednesday or Thursday following a bye.

Read Tribute: Gasquet, 'Le Monsieur', Reaches Elite Status With 500th Win

7) Damir's Pursuit: No. 2 seed Damir Dzumhur ended 2017 on a 24-7 run, including his first two ATP World Tour titles at St. Petersburg and Moscow. The 25-year-old, who reached the quarter-finals at both Montpellier and Marseille, seeks his first trophy of 2018 in Budapest.

8) Going for 500: Russian Mikhail Youzhny can potentially join Gasquet in the 500-win club in Budapest, as he currently sits at 496 victories (496-404). Youzhny will need to make the final to achieve the milestone. He opens against Hungarian wild card Zsombor Piros.

9) Time is Now: Piros will make his ATP World Tour main draw debut in his hometown this week. The 18-year-old wild card peaked at No. 3 on the ITF Junior Circuit last season after winning the Australian Open boys’ singles and Roland Garros boys’ doubles titles. Piros is at a career-best No. 471 in the ATP Rankings.

10) In-Form at 40: Among the teams playing doubles in Budapest are 40-year-old Belarusian Max Mirnyi and 32-year-old Austrian Philipp Oswald. Since joining forces last August, Mirnyi and Oswald are 20-7 as a pair with titles at 2017 Moscow, 2018 New York and 2018 Houston.

5 Things We Learned From Monte-Carlo

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 6:34pm
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1. Rafa Is Rafa-ing, Again
The best is getting even better. World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, having won his 11th Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters title on Sunday (d. Nishikori), is now the all-time leader in ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns. Nadal has 31 titles at the prestigious level. He had been even with Novak Djokovic at 30.

Watch: Rafa Wins 11th Monte-Carlo Title

ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Title Leaders

Player

Masters 1000 Titles

Monte-Carlo Titles

(1) Rafael Nadal

31

11

(2) Novak Djokovic

30

2

(3) Roger Federer

27

0

(4) Andre Agassi

17

0

(5) Andy Murray

14

0

With two more clay-court Masters 1000 tournaments in the near future – Madrid, Rome – Nadal could very well have 33 Masters 1000 titles before the European clay-court season ends. That's because Nadal, the all-time clay-court titles leader with 54, appears to be doing the unthinkable: improving his tennis on the red dirt.

Read & Watch: Nadal Clinches La Undécima

The Spaniard has now won a career-best 36 consecutive sets on clay. His flawless run through the Monte-Carlo field marked only the fifth time he had won the tournament without dropping a set (2008-10, 2012, 2018).

2. Kei Is Back, Or Very Close To It
Two and a half months ago, Kei Nishikori was lifiting the trophy at the RBC Tennis Championships of Dallas, an indoor ATP Challenger Tour event in the Texas metropolis. On Sunday, he battled for one of the biggest titles in tennis in the Principality of Monaco.

Read More: Nishikori: 'I'm Almost There'

Suffice to say, Nishikori's comeback from right-wrist surgery is coming along well. It was only the second time that the Japanese star had played at the Masters 1000 tournament in Monte-Carlo (2012). But he played like a man familiar with the territory, beating Tomas Berdych, Sydney International titlist Daniil Medvedev, second seed Marin Cilic and two-time Masters 1000 titlist Alexander Zverev to reach his first final since February 2017 (Argentina Open, l. to Dolgopolov).

Watch: Nishikori Reaches Monte-Carlo Final

3. The Bryans Are, Without A Doubt, Back
In February, even their most loyal fans had to be wondering when Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan would again be celebrating “Big Titles”. Now those same fans must just be enjoying the ride.

The Bryan brothers won their second consecutive Masters 1000 title and their 38th overall on Sunday at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, defeating Australian Open champions Oliver Marach/Mate Pavic.

Read & Watch: Bryans Capture 38th Masters 1000 Crown

Three weeks ago, the Bryans won the Miami Open presented by Itau doubles crown, their biggest title since Rome 2016 and their first tour-level crown since Atlanta 2017. The American twins have now reached three consecutive Masters 1000 finals, having lost in the BNP Paribas Open final in Indian Wells last month (l. to Isner/Sock).

Watch: Bryans Win Monte-Carlo Doubles Title

4. Djokovic Is Improving and Hungry
Two-time Monte-Carlo champion Novak Djokovic didn't bring home his third title this week, but the Serbian left the Principality feeling upbeat about his tennis. Djokovic pushed fifth seed Dominic Thiem, the only player to beat Nadal on clay last year, to three sets before bowing out in the third round.

Read More: Djokovic Disappointed By Encouraged By Monte-Carlo Run

The near future, however, is looking positive for the 30-time Masters 1000 champion. He's playing without pain in his right elbow after being bothered by discomfort for nearly two and a half years, and Djokovic has a stable situation in his coaching box. He and longtime coach Marian Vajda will continue to work together through the clay-court season.

Watch Hot Shot: Djokovic Unleashes

5. Zverev Coming Close To Mastering Masters 1000 Tournaments
He has yet to hoist a Masters 1000 title in 2018 but, of late, Alexander Zverev has been one of the most consistent players at the big-time level.

After a second-round exit in Indian Wells, Zverev made the final in Miami (l. to Isner) and the semi-finals in Monte-Carlo (l. to Nishikori). The World No. 4 is 17-7 on the year and finding his best tennis as the European clay-court season gets underway.

It's good timing for Zverev. In one week, he'll be defending 250 ATP Rankings points at the BMW Open By FWU in Munich, where he won his first clay-court title last year (d. Pella), and in three weeks, Zverev will be defending 1,000 ATP Rankings points at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome, where he won his maiden Masters 1000 title last year (d. Djokovic).

Watch: Zverev Reflects On QF Win

Nishikori: 'I’m Almost There'

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 3:31pm

Just three months after making his return to competitive action on the ATP Challenger Tour in Newport Beach and Dallas, Kei Nishikori reminded the tennis world of his abilities with a hard-fought run to the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters final this week.

The former World No. 4, who was forced to shut down his 2017 ATP World Tour season with a wrist injury last August, navigated a tough draw in the Principality, defeating Tomas Berdych, Marin Cilic and Alexander Zverev in three-set battles en route to the championship match (l. to Nadal).

“This week [is] going to help a lot with my confidence,” revealed Nishikori. “I think I've been playing well this week, and I think I'm almost there, [at my top level].”

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Despite falling short of winning his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title, the 28-year-old was proud of his progress after reaching his first final since the 2017 Argentina Open (l. to Dolgopolov).

“It was a great week for me,” said Nishikori. “I'm very happy that [I] made [the] final here.”

Nishikori had taken an early advantage in Sunday’s final, breaking the World No. 1 in the third game of the match to lead 2-1, but Nadal eventually established control of the match before racing to the title in the second set.

“I knew it was going to be tough to maintain my level because he gives me all the balls back,” said Nishikori. “I knew it was going to be tough even though I was up [a] break. 

”I was kind of out of gas… especially [in the] second set,” admitted Nishikori. “He makes [it] tough… he was also playing great tennis.”

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While Nishikori may continue to experience some discomfort in his wrist, the 2014 US Open finalist did take comfort in how his wrist, and body in general, stood up to the pressure of playing 14 sets, against top-level opposition, to progress to the final.

"I was handling [the situation] well," said Nishikori. "Maybe my body, especially my legs, were very heavy today, playing three sets, three days in a row, playing with tough players. It wasn't easy physically."

While a successful week in Monte-Carlo, without injury, is a positive sign for Nishikori, he revealed the close monitoring process that goes into avoiding further issues.

"I [have] got to check [the wrist] every week, every day. It's not 100% yet," said Nishikori. "I [have] got to take care every week."

Nishikori now heads to the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, where he could meet Nadal once again in the third round. The two-time champion (2014, 2015) is the only non-Spanish winner of the event since 2002 (Gaudio) and will open his bid for a third title against countryman Yuichi Sugita or Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the second round.

Story Of The 2018 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 12:52pm
Relive all the drama and gripping moments from the 2018 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters in the Principality. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Brain Game: Rafa’s Boisterous Backhand Steals The Show

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 11:43am

Normally, it’s Rafael Nadal’s run-around forehand that steals the spotlight as he prodigiously racks up titles in Monte-Carlo. Not so today. This time it was the backhand that stole the show. 

Nadal defeated Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-2, crushing a backhand winner cross-court on match point to notch a record 11th victory at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. The scorching backhand was the perfect icing on the cake. 

Nishikori’s strategic intentions to attack Nadal’s backhand was obvious early on, as the Spaniard hit 17 in his opponent’s opening service game of the match. Nadal committed three backhand errors in that game, but would then successfully make 26 consecutive backhands to find himself leading 5-2 in the opening set.

The insurmountable lead was built with backhands.

Nadal’s backhand did not buckle once for five straight games from 1-1 to 5-2, laying the foundation for the stunning victory. In the opening set, Nadal hit 65 rally backhands. That total does not count returns, volleys or overheads, but does include approach shots. 

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Those 65 backhands were supported by just 25 run-around forehands from the Deuce court. In many of Nadal’s matches, he actually hits more run-around forehands than backhands, but not today. He trusted his backhand, and it delivered more sparkling silverware. 

Overall for the match, Nadal hit 87 (73 per cent) rally backhands and just 33 (27 per cent) run-around forehands. Nadal’s backhand accounted for five winners and just seven errors over two sets. That means he averaged a backhand error one out of every 12 shots. Simply outstanding for a shot that was supposed to be under attack.

On the forehand side, the Spaniard hit 102 rally forehands, committing 13 errors, for an average of one error out of every eight forehands. The backhand clearly outperformed the forehand on Sunday on the red clay by the sea.

Nishikori actually won the longer, extended rallies of 9+ shots by a tally of 10-6. The only problem was that it didn’t represent a large enough grouping of points to make a difference. Nadal won the short rallies of 0-4 shots 34-19, and the mid-length rallies of 5-8 shots 23-15. It’s important to understand that if a maximum of just four shots were struck by either player, Nadal crafted a massive 23-point advantage (57-34). 

Nadal’s forehand spread Nishikori to the edges of the court, with 57 per cent of Nadal’s forehand in the first set going wide to Nishikori’s backhand, and 43 per cent directed wide to the forehand wing. Amazingly, Nadal did not land one single forehand in the opening set in the middle third of the court.

In previous rounds to the final, Nadal had hit 61 per cent of his forehands cross court and just 39 per cent down the line. That’s a normal, high percentage mix for any of the competitors at Monte-Carlo this week. 

But in the opening set on Sunday, Nadal hit more forehands down the line than cross court, signaling just how confident he was with this specific shot. He hit 56 per cent of his forehands down the line in the opening set, and just 44 per cent cross court. 

The backhand was an immovable rock. The forehand was flung down the line at will. Nadal is arguably playing the best clay court tennis of his life.

Nadal Reflects On Historic 11th Monte-Carlo Title Run

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 11:33am
Watch as Rafael Nadal describes his emotions after winning the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters for the 11th time in his career. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Highlights: Nadal Clinches 11th Monte-Carlo Crown

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 11:31am
Watch as Rafael Nadal defeats Kei Nishikori to win his 11th Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters title and a record 31st overall ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown. Photo: Realis/Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Budapest 2018

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 11:25am

Thiem Looks To Create New Barcelona Memories

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 10:50am
Watch as Dominic Thiem looks back at his previous visits to the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell and explains what makes the tournament such a special stop on the ATP World Tour. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Nadal Clinches La Undécima

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 10:20am
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Rafael Nadal continued to build upon his extraordinary legacy at Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters on Sunday when he captured his 11th trophy, which represented a record 31st ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown.

The Spanish superstar, who boasts a 396-35 record on clay courts (.919) according to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, beat Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-3, 6-2 in a one-hour and 34-minute final. It was their third clash in a red dirt title match — also 2014 Mutua Madrid Open and 2016 Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.

Watch: Nadal's Road To La Undécima

"My true feeling is these kind of things are not going to happen forever, so I just try to enjoy them and to play with the full passion and with the full energy and concentration, full love for the sport until I can," said Nadal. "I know the day to say goodbye is closer than 10 years ago. It is something that I am not worried about, but it is a real thing. So I am just enjoying every day and trying to play with the best attitude possible, to keep being happy playing tennis. That's all.

"Of course it is a special day for me. Winning again this title here in Monte-Carlo means a lot, especially because it is the first tournament in the year that I finished. To have the victory in a Masters 1000, especially in Monte-Carlo, that for me is one of the most important ones in terms of personal feeling and in terms of history of our sport. I am very excited and very happy for everything."

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The victory improves Nadal match record to 11-1 on the 2018 season and means that the 31-year-old will begin his 171st week at No. 1 in ATP Rankings on Monday, breaking a tie with American John McEnroe (170 weeks). Nadal, with 76 career titles (54 on clay), is now also one trophy shy of McEnroe’s singles haul (77). He will now travel to Barcelona, where he is a 10-time titlist, having won a career-best 36 consecutive sets on clay.

His Serene Highness Albert II, Sovereign Prince of Monaco, and his wife, Her Serene Highness The Princess of Monaco, presented Nadal with the Monte-Carlo trophy in front of a capacity crowd on Court Rainier III. Nadal received €935,385 in prize money and earned 1,000 ATP Rankings points.

"It is very special," Nadal added. "But 11 titles here, it's unbelievable, so it's something difficult to imagine. I always say the same: If I did it, somebody else can do it. But it is very difficult. I really don't know how these things can happen because it is lot of years without making mistakes and without being unlucky in this week. I have been unlucky other weeks, but not this week.

"The history with this tournament is unique. To put another trophy in my museum, in my academy, is going to be something great. Eleven is a lot, especially here in Monte-Carlo."

ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Title Leaders

Player Masters 1000 Titles Monte-Carlo Titles (1) Rafael Nadal 31 11 (2) Novak Djokovic 30
2 (3) Roger Federer 27 0 (4) Andre Agassi 17 0 (5) Andy Murray 14 0

Nishikori saved one break point in a 16-point second game of the pair’s 12th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting, prior to clinching Nadal’s serve with a delicate backhand winner down the line for 2-1. But Nishikori looked deflated one game later when he double-faulted to gift Nadal a way back into the set. Nadal didn’t need another invitation as he won four of the next five games finishing the 56-minute opener with a trademark forehand approach down the line.

Once Nadal cleaned the right tramline with a crosscourt forehand winner to break Nishikori in the third game, the second set was one-way traffic. From 0-1, Nadal won five straight games, including a service break at 1-3 courtesy of Nadal forehand error.

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Nadal lost just 21 games in his five matches — against Aljaz Bedene, Karen Khachanov, Dominic Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov and Nishikori — this week at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, where he has a 68-4 record with 12 final appearances. It is the fifth time he has won the Monte-Carlo title without dropping a set (also 2008-10 and 2012).

This week, Nadal was competing in just his second tournament of the season, having sustained a hip injury during his Australian Open quarter-final against Marin Cilic in January.

Most Titles At A Single Tournament

Player Tournament Titles Won Rafael Nadal Monte-Carlo 11 Rafael Nadal Barcelona
10 Rafael Nadal Roland Garros 10 Roger Federer Halle 9

The 28-year-old Nishikori was contesting the fourth Masters 1000 championship match of his career (0-4), after runner-up finishes to Nadal at 2014 Madrid and to Djokovic at 2016 Miami Open presented by Itau and Rogers Cup in Toronto. The Japanese, who may meet Nadal in next week’s Barcelona quarter-finals, received €458,640 in prize money and earned 600 ATP Rankings points.

"I knew it's going to be tough to maintain my level because he gives me all the balls back," said Nishikori. "It's not easy to dominate the point with Rafa all the time. I knew it's going to be tough even though I was up a break.

"I was kind of out of gas, especially in the second set. How he plays... He makes every shot. He makes it tough. I think he was also playing great tennis. It was not easy to maintain my level until the end today."

Nadal will next head to Barcelona in search of yet another 11-title haul at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. He finds himself in the same quarter of the draw as Nishikori and longtime rival Novak Djokovic, with a potential rematch against the Japanese awaiting in the third round. Draw Preview

"Next week is another week that I have a tough draw in Barcelona," Nadal continued. "Today is a day to enjoy this because winning a tournament like this one not happening every day. But tomorrow I need to start being focused on the next week. Is not the moment to stop and to disconnect your mind. Is the moment to stay focused and to keep holding that momentum that is good one after winning seven matches in a row on clay now, this year. That's a positive thing. The way that I won the matches are very positive. So is the moment to keep going, and that's my goal."

Did You Know?
Rafael Nadal will rise to No. 4 in the latest ATP Race to London standings on Monday after winning his 11th Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters title. The World No. 1 has won 11 of his 12 matches on tour in 2018.

Federer Hits The Practice Court In Miami

Wed, 03/21/2018 - 2:38pm
Watch as 2017 Miami Open presented by Itau champion Roger Federer takes to the court as he prepares to defend his title. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.