Rafael Nadal powered to a record 11th Monte Carlo Masters title with a straight-sets victory over Kei Nishikori.
The world No 1 recovered from going a break down early in the first set to win 6-3, 6-2 in 93 minutes and has now won 36 consecutive sets on clay, a run which stretches back to the first round of last year’s French Open.
None of Nadal’s opponents has won more than four games in any of those sets, a statistic Nishikori looked like changing when he broke for a 2-1 lead at Monte Carlo Country Club.
However, Nadal had other ideas and broke straight back on his way to winning five of the next six games. The 31-year-old then broke Nishikori twice more in the second set to seal a 31st Masters 1000 title, one more than Novak Djokovic.
Nadal said: “I want to thank all my team and my family. We had some tough moments during the last five months after a couple of injuries in a row. It’s great to have a group of great people behind me. I can say thank you very much always for being there and supporting me when I really need it.
“It’s always special for me to be back here, having this trophy. It’s one of the most important events of the year for me.”
After retiring with a hip injury during his Australian Open quarter-final against Marin Cilic, Nadal withdrew from the Mexican Open, Indian Wells Masters and Miami Open due to the problem.