Monte Carlo, Monaco (Sports Network) - Rafael Nadal captured his seventh straight Monte Carlo Masters title with a straight-set win over fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in Sunday's final.
Nadal earned a 6-4, 7-5 triumph for his 37th straight win on the Monte Carlo clay and the 44th title of his stellar career. It's his first title of 2011, as he was a semifinal loser in Qatar and a quarterfinal loser to Ferrer at the Australian Open before losses to the undefeated Novak Djokovic in the final at both Indian Wells and Miami.
"It's really emotional and unbelievable for me," said Nadal. "[To] start the clay season like this is fantastic, but [it] is fantastic winning Monte Carlo another time."
The super Spaniard has now won 30 tournaments on clay, tying him with the great Bjorn Borg and Manuel Orantes for third all-time. Guillermo Vilas sits atop the list with 45 clay titles, followed by Thomas Muster with 40.
Nadal countered a Ferrer break with two of his own to win the first set, then broke for a 2-1 lead in the second. Ferrer, though, broke back to square the set at 4-4, but Nadal broke again for a 6-5 lead and converted his second match point when Ferrer returned a volley into the net.
"[To] win seven times in a row anywhere is almost impossible I think," Nadal added. "But to win Monte Carlo, all the best players in the world are here, you always have tough matches, is impossible to imagine for me. So I am very lucky, I think."
Copyright 2011, The Sports Network
Ferrer was bidding for his 12th title and third of 2011. He won the Australian Open tuneup in Auckland to start the year before a loss to Andy Murray in the semifinals at Melbourne, then captured the Acapulco crown in February.
Sunday's loss dropped Ferrer to 11-11 all-time in ATP finals. He also fell to 4-12 lifetime against Nadal, including 1-9 on clay. Nadal, who beat Ferrer in last year's Monte Carlo semifinals, has also won all four meetings in finals. He took the title matches on clay in Barcelona in 2008 and 2009 before another clay victory in last year's Rome finale.
"Rafa is incredible on clay," Ferrer stated. "I mean, he's everywhere at the same time. He's the best player on clay in history."
Nadal improved to 39-1 all-time in Monte Carlo with his lone loss coming as a 16-year-old back in 2003 -- a third-round setback to Guillermo Coria. He extended his record haul in Masters events to 19, two more than the 17 won by Andre Agassi and Roger Federer.
Sunday's triumph was worth a first prize of $630,000.