Nadal earns sixth Barcelona Open title
BARCELONA, Spain (AP)
Rafael Nadal beat David Ferrer 6-2, 6-4 in their second all-Spanish final in two weeks to claim his sixth Barcelona Open title on Sunday.
The top-ranked Spaniard chalked up his 29th straight match at the clay court event when the fourth-seeded Ferrer hit his backhand wide.
''It is a dream for me to win here six times,'' said Nadal, whose sole loss at Barcelona came at the hands of fellow countryman Alex Corretja in 2003. ''I think it will be difficult to repeat. Six years is a long time in the life of a tennis player.''
It was Nadal's 45th career ATP title and his second consecutive trophy after beating Ferrer at Monte Carlo in straight sets on April 17.
Nadal triumphed at Barcelona from 2005-2009, including finals victories over Ferrer in the 2008 and 2009, before sitting out the last year's edition to rest.
''I feel bad for David because no one deserves to win here more than him for what it means to him and the work he has put in to reach three finals,'' Nadal said after improving his career record against Ferrer to 13-5, including a 5-0 record in finals. He has beaten Ferrer 10 straight times on clay since losing to him in 2004.
Ferrer has played in four finals this year, winning two and being a runner-up to Nadal twice.
''I hope Rafa doesn't come back next year,'' Ferrer said jokingly to the public as he collected his second-place trophy.
The 24-year-old Nadal became the first player to win two tournaments six or more times- he has won Monte Carlo seven times- in the tour's Open era.
His 31st clay court title also moved him into third place all time ahead of Bjorn Borg and Manuel Orantes. The last time Nadal lost on his preferred surface was to Robin Soderling at the 2009 French Open.
''We will have to see when my career is over, but what Bjorn did was incredible, how players had the feeling they could not beat him. I don't think I have that,'' Nadal said.
Both players struggled to hold their serve in a match that saw six breaks for Nadal and three for Ferrer.
''He served better in the first set, but we both struggled with our serves and there were a lot of breaks,'' Ferrer said. ''We have both had better days.''
Ferrer held his first service game with an excellent drop shot and had a break point in the second, but Nadal rallied to save.
Ferrer then began to lose the precision that had led him to wins over the seeded Jurgen Melzer and Nicolas Almagro in the early rounds.
The top-seeded Nadal broke Ferrer's serve in the third with a forehand drive down the line, and didn't drop a point in Ferrer's next service game for his second break to go up 4-1.
Ferrer broke back when Nadal erred on his backhand slice in the sixth game, but Ferrer netted an approach shot to surrender the advantage for Nadal to comfortably take the first set.
''I think my first set today was my best of the season,'' Nadal said. ''My forehand was also better today. Last week I felt like I wasn't causing enough pain for my opponents with my forehand, but today I could change its direction and send it down the line.''
Nadal hit another of his patented left-hand drives into the corner to break Ferrer in the first game of the second set, but Ferrer started to show some of the fight from Monte Carlo when he tested Nadal before falling 6-4, 7-5.
The second highest ranked Spanish player saved a break point to hold in the third game, and took Nadal's serve when he forced Nadal to return long in the fourth, pulling even 2-2.
As Ferrer reduced his errors, Nadal's volleys drifted wide and he was broken for a second straight game when Ferrer's forehand winner gave him a 4-2 lead.
Nadal responded, swatting Ferrer's drop shot to break him in the seventh game, and he broke his opponent again in his next service game when Ferrer's cross shot landed wide to regain the lead for good.
''I don't know why, but I wasn't able to keep up the rhythm of play,'' Ferrer said. ''I didn't serve well in the second set at this important moment when maybe I had a chance.''