Rafael Nadal beats Gael Monfils to win ninth Monte Carlo Masters title
Former world number one Rafael Nadal claimed a ninth Monte Carlo Masters title with victory over Gael Monfils.
Nadal, who beat Andy Murray in the last four, won 7-5 5-7 6-0, his 68th victory from 100 finals on the ATP World Tour.
"It has been a very important week," said the Spaniard, 29. "The victory confirms that I am better."
This was his first tournament victory of 2016, having won only three in 2015, and means he has claimed clay-court titles in each of the past 13 years.
Monfils, a runner-up in the Rotterdam Open in February, earned the backing of the Monte Carlo Country Club crowd as he tested Nadal throughout.
But having earlier saved set point, the pressure told on the Frenchman, who double-faulted to hand fifth seed Nadal a close-fought opening set.
The pair traded five breaks of serve in a gruelling second, but it was Monfils who edged the former world number one to level.
Nadal then took control of the decider and raced into a 5-0 lead before landing a forehand winner at match point to win for the ninth time in Monte Carlo as he builds to next month's French Open, which he will be seeking to win for a 10th time.
"I had a tough season last year, but I've had better preparation this year, even with a tough start to the season," said the world number five, who withdrew from last month's Miami Open with a virus.
"It's great to win a Masters title again. I hope this week will help me a lot."
It is a record-equaling 28th Masters title for Nadal, bringing him alongside Novak Djokovic, but a third Masters final defeat for Monfils.
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