Nadal fends off Ferrer to clinch 7th Barcelona crown
Updated: 2012-05-02 10:01
BARCELONA - Rafa Nadal became the first player in the open era to win two tournaments seven times when he fought off tenacious Spanish compatriot David Ferrer 7-6 7-5 to win a thrilling Barcelona Open final on Sunday.
In a repeat of last year's title match and 10 years to the day since he made his World Tour debut, Nadal came out on top in a claycourt slugfest between the nation's two best players that wowed the capacity crowd in the Catalan capital.
The world number two, fresh from clinching a record eighth straight Monte Carlo Masters crown last week, claimed the giant Conde de Godo trophy for the seventh time in eight years with his 34th straight win at the event.
It was the 25-year-old French Open champion's 48th career title and his 34th triumph on his beloved clay.
"Without doubt it was my most difficult match since the start of the clay season," Nadal said in an interview with Spanish television.
"I think that David more than deserved to win this title and I really wish him the best for the rest of his career."
Sixth-ranked Ferrer went toe to toe with his Davis Cup team mate in a closely-fought first set but failed to convert five set points on his opponent's serve when leading 6-5 and faded badly to lose the tiebreak 7-1.
Meeting Nadal for a fourth time in the Barcelona final and chasing an ATP-best fourth title this year, he looked spent at that stage but after losing his serve to fall 3-1 behind managed to conjure the energy to break back.
He then drew on all his famed stamina and tenacity to carve out a 5-4 lead but again failed to convert when it counted and Nadal produced probably the shot of the tournament to help break the Ferrer serve and level at 5-5.
He just managed to get a racket on a Ferrer drive to lift the ball high over the net before anticipating his opponent's smash and playing a miraculous return that surprised his opponent into offering up a simple volley.