Rafael Nadal swats aside Kei Nishikori to seal record-breaking 11th Monte Carlo crown

Rafael Nadal became the first man to win a tournament 11 times in the Open era with his 76th ATP Tour triumph. Nadal's 31st Masters title is also an outright record, pulling him out of a tie with Novak Djokovic. (AFP)
Updated 22 April 2018

Rafael Nadal swats aside Kei Nishikori to seal record-breaking 11th Monte Carlo crown

  • Nadal saw off Nishikori 6-3, 6-2 to become the first man to win a single tournament 11 times in the Open era
  • Nadal’s 31st Masters title is also an outright record, pulling him out of a tie with Novak Djokovic

Monte Carlo: Rafael Nadal romped to a record-extending 11th Monte Carlo Masters title by brushing aside an outclassed Kei Nishikori in Sunday’s final to retain the world number one ranking.
The 31-year-old saw off Nishikori 6-3, 6-2 to become the first man to win a single tournament 11 times in the Open era with his 76th ATP Tour title.
Nadal’s 31st Masters title is also an outright record, pulling him out of a tie with Novak Djokovic.
The 16-time Grand Slam champion’s era of utter dominance on clay looks unlikely to end any time soon after Nadal took his run of consecutive sets won on the surface to 36.
The Spaniard will next set his sights on an 11th Barcelona Open victory next week, and it is hard to see anyone preventing him from extending his record number of 10 French Open titles at Roland Garros at the end of the clay-court season.
He was pushed by Japan’s Nishikori early on and fell a break down, but roared back against an opponent who already appeared beaten midway through the first set.
It was still an excellent week for former world number four Nishikori, who only returned from a four-month absence with a right wrist injury in January and will rise from his current ranking of 36 to the brink of the top 20.
Nadal got on the board with a strong service hold, before quickly putting Nishikori under pressure as a flicked passing shot brought up break point.
But the Spaniard missed a forehand up the line by a matter of millimeters, with Nishikori clinging on after an 11-minute game that left him looking physically exhausted.
But that hold showed Nadal, who first won the event in 2005, that his opponent was up for the fight.
The top seed was even displaying rare signs of nerves, and Nishikori broke for a 2-1 lead with a backhand up the line after a Nadal double fault.
But he failed to build on that glimmer of an opening, double faulting himself on break-back point.
That costly error knocked the early aggression out of the 28-year-old’s groundstrokes, and Nadal sped through the next two games to take command of the first set.
Nishikori forced a break point in the seventh game but fired long with the court wide open as Nadal kept his nose in front.
He struggled a little to serve out the opener, but although Nishikori saved one set point with an exquisite backhand volley, Nadal clinched it on the second with a punch of the air celebrating a pair of blistering forehands.
Nishikori was staring down the barrel of defeat at the start of the second set, but staved off a break point to hold serve.
But the last rites had long been written, and Nadal broke to 15 in each of the Japanese’s next two service games to close on victory.
The greatest player to ever step foot on a clay court secured his 24th Masters title on the surface with a venomous backhand that flew past the hapless Nishikori.


Saudi riders with Olympic dreams to compete in Diriyah

Updated 16 October 2019

Saudi riders with Olympic dreams to compete in Diriyah

  • The event will see top international riders compete in Al-Diriyah
  • New Saudi tourism visas will allow equestrian fans to attend the competition

Saudi Arabia’s national team is set to compete at the Diriyah Equestrian Festival, which will be held northwest of Riyadh in the UNESCO protected area of Al-Diriyah.

The competition will be held between Dec. 12 and 14 and again on from Dec. 19 to 21 at the Al-Duhami Farm, the General Sports Authority announced on Wednesday.

The six-day event will see Saudi Arabia’s leading equestrian and show-jumping athletes compete for their place among the world’s top international riders.

Points scored during the competition will count towards qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

This event is part of the month-long Diriyah Season, a festival of sport, entertainment and cultural events.

Saudi Arabia’s Olympic medallist Ramzy Al-Duhami will be the host of the festival.

“We are hoping to raise the show-jumping circuit in the Kingdom to an international elite standard,” Al-Duhami said.

He added: “Organizing an international World Cup Event in Saudi Arabia for future generations is a privilege. Riding on your home ground is an honor. I am looking forward to the future of our sport at this standard.”

Authorities hope to see international fans attend the competition following the recent announcement of the new tourist visas for the Kingdom. At least 49 countries can now secure fast tourist visas online to attend the festival.