Argentina Open 2015: Landmark for Rafael Nadal as master of clay secures yet another title

The Spaniard's 46th clay-court title matches the Open era record held by Guillermo Vilas

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The Independent Online

Rafael Nadal’s reputation as the greatest clay-court player in history was secured long ago, but the 28-year-old Spaniard can now also point to the record books to underline his claim. Nadal’s 6-4, 6-1 triumph over Juan Monaco in the final of the Argentina Open in Buenos Aires gave him his 46th clay-court title, which matches the Open era record held by Guillermo Vilas.

Nine months after he last won a tournament, Nadal claimed the 65th title of his career in his 93rd final. Monaco pushed hard in the first set but did not have a break point in the whole match as Nadal claimed the title for the first time.

Nadal had been struggling ever since his shocking defeat to Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon last summer. A wrist injury and appendicitis kept him off the tour for long periods and when he returned to competition at the start of this year he was well below his best. Even in the week before last he still appeared to be struggling as he lost his first semi-final on clay for 12 years, against Fabio Fognini in Rio.

Andy Murray had reclaimed Nadal’s position at No 3 in the world rankings but the Spaniard will return to third spot in today’s updated list. Murray will slip back to No 5, with Kei Nishikori claiming the No 4 slot. Nishikori overtook Murray by reaching the final of the Mexican Open in Acapulco, where David Ferrer became the first player to win three titles this year, winning 6-3, 7-5.

Murray was practising in Glasgow yesterday along with his brother, Jamie, and James Ward as the British team continued their preparations for this week’s Davis Cup World Group tie against the United States. Dominic Inglot, the fourth member of the team, will join up with the squad today. Kyle Edmund and Liam Broady are also practising with the team.

Novak Djokovic is on Davis Cup duty this week for Serbia against Croatia, but Roger Federer, who beat him in the Dubai final on Saturday, did not make himself available for Switzerland’s first match in defence of their trophy. With Stan Wawrinka also missing, the highest ranked Swiss player in Belgium will be Yann Marti, the world No 294.

Federer’s 6-3, 7-5 victory gave him his second title of the year and the 84th of his career. The world No 2, who served the 9,000th ace of his career in the final, has now won the Dubai title seven times.

Lucie Safarova claimed the biggest victory of her career when she beat Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-3 in the final of the Qatar Total Open. It was the Czech’s first victory in seven meetings with the former world No 1. Safarova, 28, will climb four places to a career-high No 11 in the updated world rankings list.