Tennis

Rafael Nadal, pictured, equalled Guillermo Vilas' record of 49 clay-court titles with victory in Barcelona (AP).

Rafael Nadal sees off Kei Nishikori to win the Barcelona Open

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Rafael Nadal won the Barcelona Open after defeating defending champion Kei Nishikori 6-4 7-5 in the final on Sunday.

The Spaniard, who was victorious at the Monte Carlo Masters last week, claimed his ninth title in Barcelona in two hours and four minutes and in doing so equalled Guillermo Vilas' record of 49 clay-court titles.

Nishikori won the event in 2014 and 2015 but was left to pay the price for failing to take several break-point opportunities. Nadal made no such mistake and was on the front foot from the start, breaking in the fourth game for a 3-1 lead. Nishikori managed to get back level but Nadal broke his serve again to take the opening set 6-4.

Nadal was broken in the opening game of the second set but recovered brilliantly to reel off four straight games. However, once again Nishikori battled back to move level at 4-4 but Nadal was not to be denied and took the second set 7-5.

The 29-year-old has the chance to surpass Vilas' figures in May and stand alone as the record holder for clay court titles as he is set to play in events in Madrid and Rome before heading to Roland Garros where he will attempt to win a 10th French Open.

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