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TENNIS > Nadal warms up for France

BARCELONA - Agence France-Presse

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Rafael Nadal became the first player in the open era to win two tournaments seven times after claiming the Barcelona Open title.  REUTERS photo

Rafael Nadal became the first player in the open era to win two tournaments seven times after claiming the Barcelona Open title. REUTERS photo

Rafael Nadal is back on top of his mental and physical game after completing a fortnight of history-making with the Spanish king of clay adding another line for the record books on April 29.

The world number two became the first man to win two separate events seven times, as he defeated battling compatriot David Ferrer 7-6 (7/1), 7-5 to win a seventh trophy at the Barcelona Open. That success came seven days after he thrashed world number one Novak Djokovic for an eighth consecutive title in Monte Carlo.

At the start of the month, Nadal would not have liked his victory chances after being forced to quit before his Miami semi-final with Andy Murray due to left knee pain.

But a week or so of therapy, married to his iron will, has put the 25-year-old on course for what would be an unprecedented seventh French Open title.

His Barcelona triumph marked his seventh title in eight editions, with his only loss prior to 34 straight victories coming in 2003 to current Davis Cup captain Alex Corretja.

“I’ve won two extremely difficult events -- Monte Carlo and Barcelona without losing a set,” said Nadal. “No one deserves more than David to win here, but I had the luck.

“You have to really enjoy the victories as you never know when you will have another one. I’m happy to win but I’m only looking ahead.”

Nadal takes a well-deserved week off before heading to the Spanish capital for the Madrid Masters starting next week. His Barcelona victory came a decade to the day since he made his winning ATP debut on his home island of Mallorca. Now he owns 34 claycourt titles and has lost only four finals on the surface. He now has 48 career trophies overall.

May/01/2012

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