Spain’s Rafael Nadal will take an extra jolt of confidence into his Roland Garros run-up after lifting a record ninth title at the Monte Carlo Masters with a 7-5 5-7 6-0 win over Gael Monfils in the final.
The fifth-seeded winner prevailed in nearly three hours of battle on Sunday against the first Frenchman to reach the final since Cedric Pioline won the title in 2000.
Nadal was playing his 100th career final and 10th in Monaco. His victory drew him alongside Novak Djokovic with an ATP-leading 28 Masters 1000 trophies.
The Spaniard claimed his first title in the Principality since 2012 and first of any kind since Hamburg last summer. His last Masters honour came at Madrid nearly two years ago.
“I hope this week will help me a lot,” Nadal said.
“It’s great to win a Masters title again, I had a tough season last year.
“This victory means a lot to me. I hope it helps my season with confidence for the next few tournaments.
I’ve been able to play well for two events in a row (Indian Wells and Monaco) and I’m very happy about that.”
Nadal escaped to victory with a runaway final set where he dominated after being pushed to one-and-a-quarter hours in the first set and fighting off a run of break points in the second as both men tested the clay limits.
“The defence in the first two sets was just unbelievable,” Nadal said.
“In the third I told myself I had to hit my forehand harder. I went for winners, but at times it was tough to find the right feeling.
“This is a great victory for me and a very emotional one.
Nadal still made 36 unforced errors while the colourful Monfils struck in excess of 50. Break point conversions were spotty: Nadal converted on eight of 21; Monfils five from 13.
Nadal now boasts 68 titles including 48 on clay and stands an impressive 58-4 at the tournament which he has now dominated like no other. The 29-year-old won eight straight editions from 2005-2012, but had gone dry for the past four years.