Rafael Nadal beats Ferrer to win Monte Carlo Masters
Rafael Nadal remains unbeaten on clay since 2009 after a 6-4 7-5 win over David Ferrer gave him his seventh Monte Carlo Masters title on Sunday.
The Spaniard also extended his winning run in the tournament to 37 matches despite an error-strewn performance.
Nadal saved five out of six break points and broke Ferrer twice on his way to taking the first set.
After sharing breaks in the second set, Nadal broke in the 11th game and then served out for the match.
"It would have been impossible to imagine a few years ago winning seven titles here," said Nadal, who is favourite to retain his French Open title in May.
"I'm a lucky guy to have done this by age 24. I'm really enjoying everything."
He added: "This was a very important win for me.
"I don't think about defending points from previous years, only about playing well. I just keep trying to improve every day, train humbly and improve. Winning this week was so important."
The Spanish pair made a combined total of 39 unforced errors in a first set that also saw 10 break points and three breaks of serve.
Ferrer's first-serve percentage was only 36% while his fellow Spaniard's was not significantly better.
There were occasional bouts of brilliance though, with one stand-out moment coming in the sixth game.
Nadal was leading 3-2 following three breaks of serve but Ferrer had three break-points.
The world number one saved the first two and when it looked like Ferrer would take the next with a stunning drop-shot, Nadal sprinted to the net and produced a deft pick-up shot which left his opponent stunned.
He went on to take the game and following an epic eighth game on his own serve held on to take the set.
It looked like Nadal was going to break his 29-year-old opponent in the first game of the second set after carving out three break points, but the world number six saved them all before holding serve.
Fortune favoured Majorca-resident Nadal in Ferrer's second service game when he hit a winning forehand down the line which appeared to come off the frame of the racquet. He apologised but the point gave him a crucial break.
Nadal held the advantage until the eighth game when a double fault gave Ferrer break point, which he duly took.
But Ferrer's good work was undone by a sloppy 11th game. He saved one break point but failed to save the second after misdirecting a volley into the net with his opponent struggling.
Nadal kept his cool to serve out for the match, but it is unlikely he will remember the contest itself with as much fondness as the achievement of making it seven in a row.
"Well, he's not a machine. He can lose," Ferrer said. "Maybe if Rafa has an injury, I will have a chance."