Rafael Nadal of Spain bites the trophy after defeating David Ferrer in the final of the ATP 500 World Tour Barcelona Open Banco Sabadell 2012 tennis tournament, at the Real Club de Tenis on April 29, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. Rafael Nadal won 7-6, 7-5.
(April 28, 2012 – Source: David Ramos/Getty Images Europe)
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Rafael Nadal became the first player in the Open Era to win two tournaments seven times after beating David Ferrer 7-6 (1), 7-5 in Sunday’s Barcelona Open final.
The second-ranked Nadal’s 21st straight victory on clay followed up his eighth straight win in Monte Carlo, as Nadal won the 10th all-Spanish ATP final for a 48th career win.
Nadal skipped toward the net in celebration after hitting a backhand winner on match point. The six-time French Open champion displayed his normal resilience and steady play to overcome Ferrer in a match marked by grinding rallies and spectacular shotmaking more reminiscent of a major final.
“This is the hardest match I had on clay court this season, David always takes you to the limit,” Nadal told Spanish state TV. “A bit of it was lottery, luck fell on my side today.”
With a warm sun bearing down, the players exchanged early breaks before settling into a slugfest of powerful groundstrokes with long rallies often won by magnificently struck winners to the line.
Neither player let a shot go unchallenged with the rhythm only disrupted in the fourth game when both players stopped as medical staff helped a spectator in the stands.
Nadal saved seven of eight break points in the first set, including five which were set points for Ferrer in the 12th game. He fired an ace to save the last before holding for the tiebreaker, and Ferrer’s double fault allowed Nadal to get ahead 4-1 as he took the first set in a grueling 93 minutes.
Nadal showed a dip in concentration on his next service game as he was forced to save a triple-break chance before netting on the fourth opportunity to let his opponent back in.
Ferrer converted another break point when Nadal double-faulted to lead 5-4, but then hit wide on serve to be broken after Nadal’s incredible scramble had set up the break chance.
After serving to love to lead 6-5, Nadal’s superb crosscourt forehand winner put him ahead as he broke Ferrer for the fourth time to pick up the $400,000 winner’s check in 2 hours, 41 minutes.
“Like always, Rafa,” said Ferrer, who has three wins already this season. “I’ve lost four times but four times against a great.”
Only Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have beaten Nadal in a clay court final.
Sharapova rolls past Azarenka in Porsche Grand Prix final
STUTTGART, Germany (AP) — Second-ranked Maria Sharapova cruised past top-ranked Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 6-4 on Sunday to win the Porsche Grand Prix for her first title of the year.
Sharapova lost the finals of the Australian Open and Indian Wells this year to Azarenka, and the Russian had never beaten her rival from Belarus in four previous encounters in a final.
“I am really pleased to win such a tough tournament, against such tough opponents,” said Sharapova, before collecting the white sports car donated by the sponsor. “Victoria could not perform at her best because of her injury.”
Azarenka, who fell to 29-2 this year but will keep the No. 1 spot, had her playing, right wrist taped after the first set. She was seeking her fifth title of the year.
“I am disappointed to lose, but still I had a good week,” Azarenka said.
Sharapova, a former No. 1, won her 25th career title, an honor roll that also includes three Grand Slam titles.
Sharapova made her debut this year in Stuttgart, a tournament played on indoor clay that brought together the eight top-ranked players. Sunday was her fourth clay court title.
The Russian needed 30 minutes to roll through the first set, ending it by firing an ace with her second serve.
She broke serve for a 4-3 lead and closed out the match with a service winner. Sharapova is 22-4 for the year.
“I came here mainly to warm up for the French Open, so it’s been a good week,” she said.
Simon beats Fognini to win Nastase Tiriac Trophy
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Top-seeded Gilles Simon beat Fabio Fognini of Italy 6-4, 6-3 to win the Nastase Tiriac Trophy on Sunday.
The Frenchman took the event for the third time, after winning the tournament in 2007 and 2008.
Fognini, playing in his first ATP World Tour final, made a determined start and broke early for a 2-0 lead before Simon recovered to make it 2-2.
Simon broke again to lead 3-2, but immediately lost his serve in a game where both players made several forays to the net.
At 3-3, Simon broke for the third time and held on to take the set, despite an apparent eye injury.
The second set was dominated by several long rallies, but Simon seemed more in control and at 2-2 broke to take the lead. Leading 5-3, Simon trailed 40-0 on Fognini’s serve before rallying to win the match.