ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals)

Back to No 1 as Nadal cruises past Nishikori to claim 11th Monte Carlo Masters title

Spain’s king of clay makes short work of Japanese ace to retain the top ranking as he sets his sights on extending a record 10th French Open crown next month

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 April, 2018, 11:05pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 April, 2018, 11:12pm

Rafael Nadal clinched a record 11th Monte Carlo Masters title by brushing aside Kei Nishikori in Sunday’s final to retain the world number one ranking.

The 31-year-old saw off Nishikori 6-3, 6-2 to become the first man to win a tournament 11 times in the Open era with his 76th ATP Tour triumph.

Nadal’s 31st Masters title is also an outright record, pulling him out of a tie with Serbia’s Novak Djokovic.

The 16-time grand slam champion’s era of utter dominance on clay looks unlikely to end any time soon after Nadal took his run of consecutive sets won on the surface to 36.

“ I don’t know how many years I have played here ... maybe 15 years but every time it has been so special for me. I enjoyed each moment to be in this event,” said Nadal.

“I had a couple of tough moments during the past four or five months. I had a couple of injuries in a row. It’s great to have a group of great people behind me and I want to say thank you very much for supporting me when I really need it. It’s always great to be back and holding this trophy. This is one of the most important tournaments for me.”

The Spaniard will next set his sights on an 11th Barcelona Open victory, and it is hard to see anyone preventing him from extending his record number of 10 French Open titles at Roland Garros at the end of the clay-court season.

He was pushed by Japan’s Nishikori early on and fell a break down, but roared back against an opponent who appeared beaten midway through the first set.

It was still an excellent week for former world number four Nishikori, who only returned from a four-month absence with a right wrist injury in January.