Barcelona: Rafael Nadal held off a stirring fight back from David Ferrer to beat his fellow Spaniard 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 on Sunday and become the first man to win four consecutive Barcelona Open titles.
The top seed romped through the first set but Ferrer hit back superbly and Nadal had to dig deep to clinch his 25th career title, making it back-to-back tournament wins after his triumph in the Monte Carlo Masters.
Im very happy, a relieved Nadal said in a courtside interview. The first set I played very well, almost perfect, but he was very strong in the second set and I am just very happy to have won here again.
Second seed Ferrer had won three of their eight previous meetings but Nadal overpowered him in the first set, breaking three times to move ahead.
Ferrer then changed his game plan, attacking the Nadal backhand and then ripping winners to the forehand side of the three-times French Open champion.
The tactic worked perfectly as Ferrer broke in the first game of the second set and though Nadal hit back to level at 4-4, Ferrer broke again and served out to force a decider.
That was the first set Nadal had dropped in the past two weeks and he looked genuinely concerned at the start of the final set. But the 21-year-old then found a second wind and after breaking Ferrer in a long second game, he surged to a 5-0 lead.
Ferrer saved one match point on his own serve in the sixth game but Nadal served out for victory at the first time of asking, clinching victory after two hours and 14 minutes.