|Rafael Nadal of Spain bites the Conde de Godo trophy after beating compatriot David Ferrer to win the Barcelona Open tennis tournament, in Barcelona April 29, 2012. Nadal became the first player in the open era to win two tournaments seven times when he fought off tenacious Spanish compatriot Ferrer 7-6 7-5 to win a thrilling Barcelona Open final on Sunday. REUTERS/Albert Gea
Barcelona, Spain - Rafael Nadal continued his dominance on clay by beating No. 3 seed David Ferrer, 7-6 (7-1), 7-5, to win the title at the Barcelona Open for a second straight year and seventh time overall.
It was familiar territory for the two Spaniards, their fifth meeting in the event, including fourth time in the final and second year in a row.
Having just won his eighth Monte Carlo title in a row, the world No. 2 Nadal became the first player in the Open Era to win two ATP World Tour events seven times. He is now on a 34-match win streak in Barcelona, also winning the last 32 sets he's played in the tournament.
The top seed moved to 14-4 lifetime against Ferrer and has won their last 11 clay court meetings.
Nadal, of course, is the "King of Clay." Of his 48 career titles, a whopping 34 have come on the surface. He has a 21-match winning streak on clay since losing to Novak Djokovic in the Rome final last May. Nadal has won an astounding 77 straight matches on the surface in April.
"It's almost unimaginable to win here seven times," Nadal said. "It's a special tournament for me, at home in my club. To win at home in front of the people you know is always more special. I played at a very high level to win in Monte-Carlo and now Barcelona without losing a set, but I've been playing at a high level from the beginning of the year starting in Australia."
Nadal saved five set points in the 12th game of the opening set, first with a blistering forehand down the line, then when Ferrer hit a return long, a return into the net, and another ball wide after a long rally. Nadal then fired an ace to fend off the fifth set point chance and got the advantage with an overhead slam before forcing the tiebreak when Ferrer's backhand went wide.
A bevy of unforced errors was the downfall for Ferrer in the tiebreaker, when he lost the final six points.
Nadal broke Ferrer's serve to move to a 3-1 lead in the second set and was poised to take a commanding advantage, but failed on his chance. Nadal fended off three break point chances, but then gave it away when he banged a return into the net despite having a wide-open court.
Ferrer caught a break when Nadal double-faulted. That gave Ferrer a 5-4 edge, but he failed to cash in during his service game thanks to more miscues, most notably a poor slam that gave Nadal an opening for a solid return.
Nadal held serve for a 6-5 lead and then ended the match with a blistering backhand winner to capture the $398,000 first-place prize.
"It was a very equal match," Nadal said. "He didn't let me play my best level in the first set. I feel sorry for David and hope he can win here one day because he deserves it. Of course I am very happy to win two titles in a row and to start the clay court season like this."
It was a case of missed opportunities for Ferrer, who went 3-of-15 on break point chances.
"I had chances in both sets; he played better in the important moments," Ferrer said. "It's always hard to lose a final, but especially today it's hard because of the way it happened. It came down to small details, but Rafa deserved it."
Going after his 15th career title, Ferrer was in his fourth final of the year. He won titles in Auckland, Buenos Aires and Acapulco before the first week of March had concluded. He was a surprise loser in his first match last week in Monte Carlo, falling to Thomaz Bellucci.
"Overall I am happy with my week. I played my best match of the week today, but to win against Rafa I had to do more," Ferrer said. "I played a bit too conservatively on the set points in the first set. It's difficult to lose my fourth final. It was a very good tournament for me."
This was the 10th straight year a Spaniard has won the Barcelona title.