Photo by Cesar Rangel
Rafael Nadal homepage
Poor old David Ferrer. If it were not for one Rafa Nadal then his career statistics would look markedly different. Defeat on Sunday in the Trofeu de Godó was his second clay court final defeat to Nadal in two weeks and, staggeringly, made him a three-time runner-up in Barcelona - Nadal also taking the spoils on each previous occasion.
Before the main event of the singles final, there was a treat in store for those who caught a glimpse of the men's doubles. The Bryan Brothers had been on a 10-game winning streak and comfortably took the first set against Santiago Gonzalez and Scott Lipsky - what followed was a comeback from the underdogs and a thrilling third set finale. The Mexican and American duo were forced to save four match points against the world number one siblings, before somehow grinding out a memorable victory.
By 4pm, the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona was rocking. Ferrer and Nadal were welcomed onto court like two long-lost sons and the earlier doubles upset had people talking of the impossible - Nadal to lose on clay. The duo had met just one week previously, at Monte Carlo, where Nadal had won in straight sets, and it didn't take long for doubters to be silenced and the story to repeat itself.
Despite Ferrer holding his opening service game with ease and causing considerable pressure on a shaky start from Nadal, the world number one then attacked with blistering returns to break his compatriot three times en route to taking the opening set 6-2.
At 2-0 up in the second, it appeared Nadal was in a rush to wrap up his sixth victory in Barcelona but, fearing a swift end, the perhaps overly cautious Ferrer fought back with some terrific tennis of his own. A weak second serve had been ruthlessly targeted by Nadal in the first set but a more attacking, all-or-nothing Ferrer proved a much harder prospect and he would win the next four games in a row.
The crowd, sensing a deciding set, started to get behind the serial runner-up David Ferrer, but he was unable to contain Nadal for much longer. The clay-court king broke straight back and then levelled the match at 4-4, before again stealing the Ferrer serve and comfortably holding out to take the second set and match 6-2, 6-4.
Upon lifting the colossal Conde de Godó trophy (with great difficulty), Nadal was quick to pay tribute to his opponent and apologise for their numerous final meetings.
"I am very, very happy for the win and sorry for David, who is having a fantastic year and deserves a title. It's bad luck for him having to play me in three finals but it's my sixth title here and it's a huge delight," Nadal told his ecstatic crowd.
David Ferrer was equally humble, stating that Nadal was clearly the best player in the world and deserving of his title. He later joked however, that it would be nice if he didn't return next year.
The Mallorcan is now third on the all-time clay-court titles list but still needs to add another 15 tournament victories before overcoming the 45 achieved by Guillermo Vilas...four or so years to go, then.