Nadal outlast Djokovic to win fifth straight title in Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo - Rafael Nadal won the Monte Carlo Masters for a record fifth straight time on Sunday, spending nearly three hours in fighting off dogged Serb Novak Djokovic, 6-3, 2-6, 6-1.
The laboured victory pulls Nadal even with New Zealand's Anthony Wilding, who won five (non-consecutive) titles at the event from 1908 onwards.
The Spaniard had to fight for two and three-quarters hours against the determined number three Djokovic, who handed Nadal his first dropped set since the 2006 final against Roger Federer.
But the top seed began his final push with a 13-minute opening game of the final set and then emerged with a 3-1 lead after three consecutive breaks of serve.
Nadal said that the opening game was the key to the match.
"He was playing better but I saved some very important balls. Confidence was important, I had to fight all the time and put the balls inside the lines. I needed to play aggressive without mistakes," said Nadal.
"I was very focused on the moment, that's why I was able to win."
Nadal now owns 14 Masters 1000 titles - the same as Federer - and now stands halfway on 23 clay titles toward the all-time best of 45 held by Guillermo Vilas.
Nadal drew even with Briton Andy Murray, whom he beat in the Monte Carlo semis, on a tour-leading three 2009 ATP titles. Nadal stands on 29 wins this season and has a 29-1 record in Monte Carlo. (dpa)