It wasn't a big surprise that Rafael Nadal won another clay court title on Sunday as he defeated countryman David Ferrer 7-6, 7-5 in Barcelona for his second title in as many weeks and the 48th of his career.
Nadal remains the player to beat on clay and he's almost unbeatable when close to home at the Barcelona Open.
"It's almost unimaginable to win here seven times," said Nadal. "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."
Nadal is starting to equal or eclipse many of the clay court greats when it comes to titles, wins and streaks on clay. On the surface, the numbers speak for themselves, but if you dig a little deeper, the stats get even more impressive.
April is the fourth month of the year, and here's a warning - you don't want to play Rafael Nadal on clay in April. His win over Ferrer in the finals was his 77th straight clay court win in April and his 14th April title. This all according to Greg Sharko of the ATP Tour.
Barcelona and Monte Carlo
This was Nadal's seventh Barcelona title, and last week he won his eighth in a row at Monte Carlo. Eight titles in the row at anything is almost impossible to imagine. The Boston Celtics did it in the NBA from 1959-1966. The John Wooden-led UCLA Basketball teams won seven consecutive championships from 1966-1973, and 10 overall. Quite an accomplishment for Rafa, and one he can build on.
David Ferrer is a very good player, solidly in the top-10, but Nadal owns him. Nadal has won 14 of 18 meetings with his fellow Spaniard. It's the fourth time Nadal has ousted Ferrer in the finals of this ATP Tour clay court event. It's good to be David Ferrer, except when you run up against Rafael Nadal.
Nadal is currently on a 21-match winning streak on clay. His last loss was to Novak Djokovic last year in Rome. Djokovic didn't play this week in Barcelona, but you have to think he'll be waiting for Nadal at Madrid, back in Rome and in Paris to try and put an end to Nadal's streak.
The problem most players face when playing Nadal on clay is he is so confident on the surface. That, and the fact that Nadal is peaking right now, means that any player who thinks he can beat Nadal on clay will have to play "perfect" tennis.
"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 added.
Rick Limpert covers sports, technology and events. He'll be watching Rafael Nadal as he pursues another French Open title.
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