Rafael Nadal became the first player to win a tournament 11 times in the Open era

Rafael Nadal cruised to a record-extending 11th Monte Carlo Masters title, brushing aside Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-2 in Sunday’s final to retain the World No. 1 ranking. The 31-year-old became the first player to win a tournament 11 times in the Open era. This was also Nadal’s 76th ATP Tour title.Nadal’s 31st Masters crown helped him overtake Novak Djokovic.

Nadal got on board holding serve before quickly putting Nishikori under pressure as a flicked passing shot brought up break point. After the Spaniard missed a forehand down the line by a few millimetres, Nishikori won the 11-minute game but looked physically exhausted.

Nadal, who first won the event in 2005, lost serve as the Japanese took a 2-1 lead. However, Nishikori failed to build on that opportunity, double-faulting 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.

Nishikori, staring down the barrel, staved off a break point to hold serve. But Nadal broke the Japanese in each of the next two service games to close in on victory. The Spaniard secured his 24th Masters title on clay with a backhand winner that flew past the hapless Japanese.