Rafael Nadal beat defending champion Kei Nishikori 6-4 7-5 to win the Barcelona Open for the ninth time, equalling Guillermo Vilas’ record of 49 career clay-court titles.
Nadal added the title to his trophy from Monte Carlo last week as the 14-time grand slam winner regained form on his favourite surface ahead of next month’s French Open.
“I’m very happy because besides this being one of the most important tournaments that I have won, this is another week that I am playing very well,” Nadal said.
“These have been two fantastic weeks, weeks I have been striving for a long time.”
Nishikori had won the tournament for the past two years after early exits by Nadal.
In an entertaining clash of the top two 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 on Sunday (Monday AEST).
The Spaniard then bettered Nishikori through several superb rallies 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,” the fifth-ranked Nadal said.
Besides matching Vilas’ Open Era milestone from the 1970s and 1980s, Nadal added Barcelona to his list of tournaments he has won a record nine times, along with Roland Garros and Monte Carlo.
No other player has won a tournament nine times.
“This is truly special, I don’t know if it is repeatable,” Nadal said about his records.