Barcelona, Spain – Rafael Nadal continued his dominance at the Barcelona Open, winning the title for the eighth time with a straight-set victory over fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro in Sunday's final.
Nadal, whose eight-year reign at Monte Carlo ended last Sunday with a loss to Novak Djokovic in the final, claimed a 6-4, 6-3 win this Sunday for his fourth title of 2013.
The clay king has been his usual dominant self since returning from a knee injury that sidelined him for seven months. He made his season debut in Vina del Mar in February and reached the final of that event, falling to unheralded Horacio Zeballos, then won in Sao Paolo, Acapulco and Indian Wells before last week's surprising setback.
"I feel very happy to lift the trophy once again here in Barcelona," said Nadal. "It means a lot especially after the difficult year I've had."
Nadal is the first four-time winner this year and owns a record of 26-2, including 21-2 on clay. He has now won 39 straight matches in Barcelona, an event he skipped in 2010, with his lone loss in 41 tries at this tournament coming 10 years ago in the second round against Alex Corretja.
Almagro actually raced out to a 3-0 lead on Sunday with a pair of breaks, but Nadal dominated from there and improved to 10-0 all-time against his countryman. It was their first meeting in a final.
"I am extremely satisfied about being able to defeat a player like Nico in straight sets in the final," Nadal added. "I played better and better as the match went on and the break at 1-3 in the first set was vital for me. In the second set, things went smoother and I managed (to do) well in all the difficult moments."
Nadal also improved to 13-0 against fellow Spaniards in ATP World Tour finals and continued his remarkable record on clay overall. Of his 54 career titles, 39 have come on the slow surface. He is 39-6 in clay finals and 54-23 overall in title matches.
Only Thomas Muster (40) and Guillermo Vilas (45) have more titles on clay.
Almagro was bidding for his 13th career title and fell to 12-8 all-time in finals -- all of which have come on clay. He was beaten by John Isner in the Houston finale earlier this year.
"I fought all week to be able to be in the final and I reached my goal," said Almagro. "Once there, you want to win, so yes I feel a bit disappointed about it but I need to look at it positively and it's been a great week for me overall."
It's the 11th straight year a Spaniard has won this tournament.