Tennis

After 11th Monte Carlo title, Nadal looks to Barcelona and French Op

Rafael Nadal said he's looking to carry the momentum from his 11th Monte Carlo Masters title into the rest of the clay-court season, after beating Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-2 in Sunday's final.

The world No.1 showed no signs of rustiness in Monaco as he raced through his first ATP tournament since January without coming close to dropping a set.

The 31-year-old will now turn his attention to upcoming bids for 11th titles in Barcelona and at the French Open.

"It's important for my confidence. It's true that the longest match here was one hour and 30 (minutes). That's great news," said Nadal.

"Today is a day to enjoy this because winning a tournament like this one doesn't happen every day.

"But tomorrow I need to start being focused on the next week. It's not the moment to stop and disconnect your mind.

"It's the moment to stay focused and to keep holding that good momentum after winning seven matches in a row on clay now this year."

Nadal returned from a hip injury in Spain's Davis Cup quarter-final against Germany only earlier this month, where he won both of his singles matches in straight sets.

The Spaniard had retired from his Australian Open last-eight clash with Marin Cilic in January, but showed no signs of fitness problems in Monte Carlo.

"There remains a lot of the clay-court season, hopefully, hopefully, a lot of matches," he said.

"I hope to have the chance to be healthy for the whole clay-court season. That's it, yeah, it's an important beginning.

"My goal is always the same thing - to be healthy, because if I am not healthy, I cannot have any goals." .

The victory kept Nadal ahead of Roger Federer atop of the world rankings and was also an outright record 31st Masters title, pulling him out of a tie with Novak Djokovic.

Twenty-four of those successes have come on clay, on which Nadal has now won 36 consecutive sets. - AFP

Tennis