Tennis

Perfect 10 for Nadal in Monte Carlo

Spaniard claims record-extending Monte Carlo title to warm up for French Open in style

Rafael Nadal claimed a record-extending 10th Monte Carlo Masters title as he geared up for his beloved French Open with a 6-1, 6-3 victory against fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos yesterday.

The fourth seed, who is also targeting a 10th Roland Garros trophy this year, was always in command as he claimed his first ATP title since triumphing in Barcelona a year ago.

The 14-time Grand Slam champion had won his two previous encounters against Ramos and the 15th seed failed to snap that run yesterday.

"It has been an amazing week on one of the most important events on the Tour," said Nadal.

"I played well here, which helps me a lot to start the claycourt season with confidence."

Nadal wasted three break- points in the second game as Ramos levelled for 1-1, only for the clay-court king to win the next five games to bag the opening set.

With Nadal's top spin working with devastating effect, Ramos struggled to stay close to his baseline.

The Mallorcan broke for 3-2 in the second set when Ramos sent a backhand long and, from then on, Nadal was unstoppable.

Ramos ended his first Masters final with a double-fault that handed Nadal his 70th ATP title on the third match-point.

Meanwhile, Serbia's former Davis Cup coach Bogdan Obradovic said that a floundering Novak Djokovic should seek advice from evergreen Swiss maestro Roger Federer in order to rediscover his vintage self.

Djokovic has suffered a spectacular fall from grace since he captured his maiden French Open title last June for his 12th Major honour, completing a career Slam of winning all four of the world's top tennis tournaments.

"Given that Federer was able to return into the top 10 and win this year's Australian Open at the age of 36, I see no reason why Djokovic can't be the world No. 1 again," Obradovic told Belgrade daily Blic yesterday.

"Maybe Djokovic should talk to Federer. They are friends, they have known each other for a long time and the Swiss can certainly give him some good advice."

Having relinquished the top spot in the ATP rankings to Briton Andy Murray in November, Djokovic made a shock second-round Australian Open exit to Uzbek Denis Istomin followed by successive defeats to Australian Nick Kyrgios in Acapulco and Indian Wells.

The 29-year-old Serb also crashed out of the Monte Carlo quarter-finals on Thursday with a painful defeat by Belgian David Goffin after he threw away a 4-2 lead in the third set.

Obradovic, who steered Serbia to the 2010 Davis Cup title and the 2013 final during his 10-year spell in charge, made way in December for doubles specialist Nenad Zimonjic - who has since appeared in a dual player-coach role.

Having advised Djokovic several times to restore meat to his diet, Obradovic stressed he believed that Djokovic's perceived loss of appetite on the court has come hand-in-hand with more hunger shown by rivals who have sensed blood.

"All other players seem to be galvanised against him while his own motivation appears to be inconsistent and shifting all the time," said Obradovic.

"He is not at his best, his serve keeps fluctuating, as do elements in his game which really used to be at highest level consistently.

"However, it is difficult to play at such a high level indefinitely.

"Murray has a huge advantage in the standings, but I am sure Djokovic will be back in contention for the top spot." - REUTERS.

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