Rafael Nadal seems to have timed his form perfectly in his preparation for seeking an unprecedented 11th French Open title with a dominating victory on clay over Japan’s Kei Nishikori at the Monte Carlo Masters.
Nadal won 6 – 3, 6 – 2.
Nadal is the first man since the Open Era of tennis started in 1968 to win the same title 11 times. The victory in 2018 follows his first in 2005, so it would seem that it is reasonable to conclude that on clay, Nadal would have to be considered the best of all time. Neither could he be considered shabby on the other surfaces.
Nadal’s victory moved him one ahead of Novak Djokovic in terms of career Masters titles. It was his 76th professional career victory and the Monte Carlo win also keeps him ahead of Roger Federer for the world’s top ranking.
Nishikori has never won a Masters title and his prospects against Nadal in the final seemed promising initially, but he had to work hard to keep from being broken on his first service game. He broke Nadal for a 2 – 1 lead in the first set, but then seemed to shrivel, losing the next four games.
From that point, it was a coronation for Nadal, who needed only one match point in the second set to secure the win.
Nadal seems to own Nishikori. Japan’s best player has won on just two out of 12 attempts against Nadal. Like Nadal, he is also working his way back from injury and his making it to the final in Monte Carlo provides a positive prognosis and after the loss to Nadal, he was positively upbeat about his recovery.
“It was a great week for me, I had an injury and couldn’t play for a long time,” said Nishikori, who is ranked 36th.
Nadal appears to be back in full. Since returning from the balky hip that hampered him, he has not lost a set in seven matches since he had to withdraw in the fifth set of the Australian Open in January.