Rafael Nadal beat defending champion Kei Nishikori 6-4, 7-5 to win the Barcelona Open for the ninth time on Sunday, equaling Guillermo Vilas’ record of 49 career clay-court titles. Nadal added this title to his trophy from Monte Carlo last week as the 14-time Grand Slam winner regains form on his favorite surface ahead of next month’s French Open. Nishikori had won the tournament for the last two years after early exits by Nadal.
In an entertaining clash of the two top-seeded players, Nadal proved more decisive under pressure, saving seven of eight break chances in the first set while converting the two chances he got. The Spaniard then bettered second-seeded Nishikori through several superb rallies in a back-and-forth second set to win key points and claim his 69th career title in his 101st final. “I was playing against the No. 6 player in the world, and if you don’t play at your best you aren’t going to win,” Nadal said.
“I served well and that allowed me to play better