Rafael Nadal stepped up his recovery from injury and illness as he outlasted Frenchman Gael Monfils to claim the ninth Monte Carlo Masters title of his career on Sunday.
Nadal shared two tightly competitive sets with his opponent before turning on the style in the decider for a 7-5 5-7 6-0 win for his first tour title of the year.
The Spaniard's win also ensures he matches world number one Novak Djokovic by winning his 28th career Masters title.
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Inspired week for Nadal
Victory capped a stunning week for Nadal, who has struggled for form since taking seven months out because of a knee injury, and withdrew from last month's Miami Open due to a virus.
An exhilarating first set highlighted by a series of lung-bursting rallies saw both men swap two breaks apiece before Nadal struck again to edge in front.
Nadal twice dragged himself back from a break down in the second before Monfils somehow summoned the energy to break his opponent for a third time to serve out to level the scores.
But hopes of a fitting climax were shattered in the second game of the decider when a clearly ailing Monfils sent down two consecutive double-faults to give Nadal the early break.
And showing few ill effects from his recent periods of inactivity, Nadal stepped up to power his way to victory and send a message to his opponents that he is on the road to recovery.
Can Rafael Nadal get back to his best? Have your say in the comments box.
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