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Hard work paying off for Barcelona champion Nadal

Rafael Nadal was delighted to get his hands back on the Barcelona Open trophy after overcoming two-time defending champion Kei Nishikori in Sunday’s thrilling final.

Top seed Nadal collected his ninth title in Barcelona after recording a 6-4 7-5 win in two hours and four minutes, the Spaniard just edging the crucial points in a contest littered with exciting rallies.

Victory sees Nadal reassert his dominance on clay – having won the Monte Carlo Masters seven days earlier for the ninth time – and sets him in good stead for the upcoming French Open at Roland Garros.

It has been a welcome return to form for Nadal – who equals Guillermo Vilas’ record of 49 clay-court titles – and he is pleased to be seeing his hard work pay off.

“It was a very close match,” he said. “There were a lot of chances for both of us but I think I have been solid.

“When you play against players with such a high level, the match is often decided by a few moments. So I feel happy that I handled all these important moments well mentally.

“I have been working so hard to enjoy moments like this. The fact that I’m playing at home is always even more special. I’m very happy and I feel lucky to enjoy this again.”

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