Super Nadal makes it six in a row in Monte Carlo

By Julien Pretot

The four-times French Open champion's shock fourth-round defeat at Roland Garros last year was a distant memory as Nadal became the first player to win the same event six years in a row since tennis turned professional in 1968 according to the ATP.

"You played very well, sorry for today," the world number three said to Verdasco after putting in another display of exquisite claycourt tennis to win his 32nd successive match in glitzy Monte Carlo.

"I have been feeling at home here. I played my best week for a long time. It's unbelievable, it's my favorite tournament."

Verdasco, playing in his first Masters final, entered a sunsoaked center court all pumped up -- but with a 0-9 record against Nadal.

The sixth seed was quickly deflated, Nadal breaking in the opening game when his opponent misfired a forehand.

Verdasco pleased the capacity crowd with a couple of stunning forehand winners before making a mistake that inspired Nadal to produce the shot of the tournament.

At the end of an energy-sapping rally, Verdasco thought he had won the point with a neat, sliced backhand volley, only for Nadal to retrieve and unleash a jaw-dropping crosscourt backhand passing shot.

After losing the fifth game, Verdasco called on the trainer at the change of ends to have his neck and shoulders massaged.

His father Jose had a resigned look on his face as Nadal bagged the first set when Verdasco's forehand went wide.

Verdasco staved off three break points in the first game of the second set and triggered a huge roar in the stands when he moved 1-0 up with an ace.

Seemingly not bothered by the clattering and clinking from the overhanging VIP restaurant, Nadal peppered the court with winners, breaking for 2-1 with a dipping forehand.

The Majorcan also showed he could use the backhand, prompting a dejected frown on Verdasco's face with a sliced crosscourt passing shot.

Trailing 4-1, Verdasco went down on his knees and blew kisses skywards as he set up a break point by winning a spectacular rally in which Nadal retrieved a lob and a couple of smashes.

Even the usually composed Prince Albert of Monaco jumped out of his seat in celebration.

Nadal ended Verdasco's ordeal on his first match point with a forehand winner, rolling on the ground before going back to his chair and sobbing into his towel.

"I hope Rafa will be tired of winning here," Verdasco joked.

(Editing by Sonia Oxley)