Men’s Final:  Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs.  Kei Nishikori (JPN)
The potential was there for this to be a tough battle for Nadal; however, Nishikori who is recently back from injury was not fully match tough. Nadal was not at his best either, the effects of pressure showed and Nishikori broke first. However, Nadal was not too concerned and he immediately broke back. That is the beauty about the relationship Nadal has with clay, he enjoys playing on this surface and fully understands his strengths and his opponent’s weaknesses.
While Nadal was anxious it was not necessarily about the challenge Nishikori posed, it was about what was at stake (defending his title and the number one ranking). Despite defeating Grigor Dimitrov yesterday, Nadal was not happy with his performance and went out to practice immediately after leaving the court. No doubt he was not happy with his performance today either despite the victory as he uncharacteristically made too many unforced errors. The perfectionist that he is will not be too pleased; however, hopefully he can enjoy the victory.
Let’s step back and put this victory in perspective. No one really challenged him in this tournament. The one player that many thought would offer the greatest resistance, Dominic Thiem, only won two games. The only player who came the closest to winning a set was Dimitrov, and he was not able to sustain the level of play required to accomplish the task because of a right shoulder problem.
While I am very happy that Nadal claimed his eleventh Monte-Carlo title with the 6-3, 6-2 defeat of Nishikori; there are too many players out there who are not yet at their best who can challenge him as the clay court season progresses. With these unknown variables, Nadal cannot be complacent going into Barcelona; he has too many points to defend this clay court season and there are too many opponents who would love the opportunity to dethrone him.
SOURCE OF IMAGES: serveandrally