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article imageNadal wins Barcelona crown, ties Vilas clay record

By Lucky Malicay     Apr 25, 2016 in Sports
Rafael Nadal has equaled Guillermo Vilas’ record of 49 clay-court titles following his latest success in Barcelona, Spain.
Fresh from his successful stint in Monte Carlo, Nadal has continued his resurgence, dethroning defending champion Kei Nishikori (6-4, 7-5) of Japan on Sunday to capture the Barcelona Open crown, his second trophy in two weeks.
The victory was Nadal’s ninth in Barcelona, where he won the most titles, as he regained his confidence ahead of the French Open next month.
''I'm very happy because besides this being one of the most important tournaments that I have won, this is another week that I am playing very well,'' Nadal said. ''These have been two fantastic weeks, weeks I have been striving for for a long time.''
Aside from bagging his ninth Barcelona Open crown, Nadal also won a record nine times at the Monte Carlo Masters and at the Roland Garros.
''This is truly special, I don't know if it is repeatable,'' Nadal said.
''If I have done it, it is possible, but it will be truly difficult. I have won titles nine times, and won so many titles on clay and in tough tournaments. I am very satisfied for Barcelona to join this group of nine.''
Vilas was a clay-court specialist who dominated tennis in the late 1970s. He won the French Open and the U.S. Open in 1977, and the Australian Open in 1978 and 1979 in a professional career that spanned 20 years.
The Argentine still played the ATP Challenger Series until 1992 despite retiring from the tour in 1989. In 1991, he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame along with Ashley Cooper of Australia and Ilie Nastase of Romania.
Nadal, the world number six, said he served well against Nishikori and that he had a good first-serve percentage that allowed him to play better.
"In the second set I let a lot of opportunities go, but I am very happy to have resisted mentally and happy to win," he said.
Since he has been on a roll, the winner of 14 Grand Slam titles is returning to reclaim his French Open throne, according to his trainer and uncle, Toni Nadal.
“Yes. Rafael is at a level that could allow him to be a clear favorite to win. The top favorite will be Novak Djokovic, but the level showed by Rafa indicates that he can be one of the favorites,” Toni Nadal said.
Toni said Rafael’s passion and confidence are back, the reason why he is a top contender for the Fench Open title.
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