Sunday, April 17, 2016

2016 MONTE CARLO: Nadal Outlasts Monfils To Win Record 9th Title Here

Rafael Nadal's drought maybe over. Taking advantage of the shocking departure of World #1 (and defending champion) Novak Djokovic earlier in the week, the King of Clay was able to win his 28th Masters series event and 9th Monte Carlo crown by outlasting a surprisingly solid Gael Monfils 7-5 5-7 6-0. Nadal had last won here in 2012.

The final came about when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga dispatched Roger Federer 6-4 in the 3rd set but then lost in straight sets to his countryman Monfils in the semifinals. Nadal, on the other hand, took out the reigning French Open champion Stan Wawrinka and World #2 Andy Murray (both in straight sets), in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. It's been well over a year (maybe 2) since Nadal has put together a series of such strong performances in a row against Top 5 competition. Monfils was even more impressive, as he was the only player to not lose a set all week during his path to the final.

Monfils was playing in his 25th ATP tour final (Nadal's 100th) and trying to win his first ATP Masters Shield (and 6th career title). Instead, Nadal won his 68th career title and became the first player to win two different tournaments an incredible NINE different times (he has also won the clay-court grand slam Roland Garros 9 times). Both players are twenty-nine years old.

The two tour veterans put on one of the most entertaining finals of the year to date, sharing 34 breakpoints between them, in a contest which lasted 2 hours, 46 minutes. In the end, though, Monfils simply ran out of gas and Nadal was able to punish his erstwhile rival's lack of energy in the deciding set without conceding a game.

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