Rafael Nadal won his seventh Barcelona Open on Sunday as he defeated fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in two tight sets, 7-6 (1), 7-5.
The victory secured Nadal's second consecutive title on the ATP tour, on the back of his victory over Novak Djokovic in Monte Carlo last week.
While Nadal's victory over the world No. 1 was emphatic, this was a much closer affair with Ferrer giving his more illustrious countryman plenty of problems in a match that lasted for two hours and 40 minutes.
Serving at 5-6 in the opening set, Nadal was forced to save five set points before finally taking it into a tie break. As is so often the case, Ferrer suffered a letdown from failing to take his chances on his opponent's serve and played a poor tiebreak as Nadal cruised to take it for the loss of just one point.
When Nadal took a 3-1 lead in the second set it appeared as though the spirited Ferrer's resistance was broken. But the World No. 6 came back strongly to earn a chance to serve for the set at 5-4. But it was not to be Ferrer's day as the man who had beaten him 10 straight times on a clay court made it 11 by rolling off three straight games.
The win maintained Nadal's unbeaten record in Barcelona which now stretches to 34 matches. Having captured his eighth title in Monte Carlo last week, the 25-year-old becomes the first player in the open era to win two ATP Tour events seven times.
All this bodes well for Nadal as he looks to hold onto his last remaining grand slam title at Roland Garros next month.
If Djokovic could replicate his victories over the Spaniard in the finals in Australia, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in Paris then it would be a devastating blow to Nadal. Roland Garros has become Nadal's house and to relinquish the crown to the Serbian would be as seismic a shift as when the Spaniard beat Roger Federer in the epic Wimbledon final in 2008.
With all the top players scheduled to be in action, the Masters 1000 event in Madrid, beginning next week, will be a big indicator of form heading into the French Open. After Djokovic's win there last year, Nadal will be out to lay down another marker on the man who most threatens his title as the king of clay.