Nadal Wins Seventh Title Of Year
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal won his seventh tour-level title of the season, and the 43rd of his career, Sunday as he defeated Gael Monfils 6-1, 7-5 in the final of the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo.
The Spaniard improved to a 7-1 record in finals this season, with his only defeat coming in Doha (l. to Davydenko) in January. He completed a clean sweep of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tournaments in Monte-Carlo, Rome and Madrid, before winning three successive majors at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open.
"Every tournament is very important; it is nice to win another big title like this one," said Nadal. "I won a lot this year but I have to appreciate how difficult it is and how much hard work you have to do. I improved a lot my serve and it is a big thing on a surface as quick as here in Tokyo."
Nadal dropped only one set during his debut appearance at the ATP World Tour 500 hard-court tennis tournament in Tokyo; he was forced to save two match points in a third-set tie-break against Viktor Troicki in the semi-finals. The Mallorcan is the fourth player this year to win an ATP World Tour title having saved a match point at some stage during the tournament, following Nikolay Davydenko (Doha), John Isner (Auckland) and Sam Querrey (Belgrade, Los Angeles).
The 24-year-old Nadal, who has already secured his place at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, earned 500 South African Airways 2010 ATP Ranking points and $261,500 in prize money.
In his eighth meeting with Monfils, Nadal recorded his seventh victory over the Frenchman. The top seed raced to a one-set lead, breaking serve in the second and sixth games. Monfils was stronger on serve in the second set, hitting seven aces as he kept Nadal at bay, but the Spaniard was able to convert his only break point in the 11th game and served out victory in 77 minutes.
"Gael is a great player; I played very well today and that's why I won," said Nadal. "I wasn't really tired after the semi-final [against Troicki]. [Gael] beat me before in Doha in 2009 and we had other tough matches."
Nadal improved his ATP World Tour-best match record to 66-8 (35-7 on hard court) this season. The left-hander was playing in his second tournament since victory at the US Open, where he became the seventh man in ATP World Tour history to complete the career Grand Slam. Last week he reached the semi-finals in Bangkok (l. to Garcia-Lopez).