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By Chris Oddo Photo Credit: Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal - 2012 Barcelona Open(April 29, 2012)—Rafael Nadal survived a knock-down, drag-out battle with David Ferrer to win his record-breaking seventh Barcelona title today, 7-6(1), 7-5. With the victory, Nadal becomes the only man in Open Era history to own at least seven titles at more than one event. Last week he won his eighth Monte-Carlo title.

“The emotions are always high,” Nadal said afterwards. “But probably each year they get a bit higher as you are one year older and you don't know how many chances you are going to have left.”

Nadal’s dominance has never been in question at the event—he’s won 70 of 72 sets in 34 consecutive victories since his only loss in 2003—but today he was made to work extremely hard by Ferrer.

Ferrer, who has now lost in all six clay-court finals that he’s contested against Nadal (including four in Barcelona), had numerous chances to win both sets today.

“I played my best match of the week today,” said a disappointed Ferrer. “But to win against Rafa I had to do more.”

After saving a break point at 5-5 in the first set with a massive inside-out forehand, Ferrer put the pressure on Nadal, earning five set points in the twelfth game. But each time Nadal gave an inch, Ferrer gave back a mile. Finally, after Nadal hit his second of four aces on the day to erase Ferrer’s fifth set point, the pair moved to a tiebreaker.

Ferrer, who had played brilliantly for much of the first set, had nothing left to give.

He played scatterbrain tennis—something nobody can afford against Nadal—and proceeded to drop the last six points of the tiebreaker with some uncharacteristically loose play.

In the second set, after Nadal grabbed the first break for a 3-1 lead it appeared that Ferrer might be ready to pack it in and collect his runner-up check. But true to form the world No. 6 kept plugging, eventually breaking back on his fourth opportunity of the next game, then getting a bit of charity from the world No. 1 in the ninth game when Nadal double faulted to give Ferrer a chance to serve for the set.

It would be yet another opportunity wasted for Ferrer.

Nadal broke back, and after holding in the next game, broke Ferrer at love to seal the championship.

"This is the hardest match I had on clay court this season, David always takes you to the limit," Nadal told a television interviewer after the match today. "A bit of it was lottery, luck fell on my side today."

The victory is Nadal’s 21st consecutive win on clay, and the title is Nadal’s 34th clay-court title, good for third all-time (behind only Thomas Muster and Guillermo Vilas).

Ferrer was bidding to become only the fourth player to earn two victories against Nadal on clay. The only men to achieve the feat are Gaston Gaudio (3), Novak Djokovic (2) and Roger Federer (2).

"I have lost four times to him here in the final now but I know I have lost to one of the greats," the 30-year-old said in a post-match interview.

Nadal’s 241st clay-court victory puts him on pace to pass Juan Carlos Ferrero (250) for the lead among active players this season.

 

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