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Nadal hails victory after 'tough year'

ESPN staff
April 29, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Rafael Nadal has admitted that he is still not fully fit following his knee injury © AP
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Despite enjoying an eighth victory in nine years at the Barcelona Open, Rafael Nadal has admitted that he is still feeling the effects of the knee injury that kept him off the court for seven months.

The world No. 5 overcame fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 6-4 6-3 to claim his 39th consecutive match win at the tournament and seal his fourth title victory since returning from injury in February.

The seven-time French Open champion spent a lengthy spell off court with knee troubles and ended 2012 fourth in the world rankings, the first time in eight years that he had not featured in the top two.

However, following his return Nadal has reached the final in all six tournaments that he has entered, and is satisfied with his progress.

"I am very happy," Nadal said. "It has been an important week for me to win here again and a great source of joy after everything I have been through.

"Not all of my physical problems are behind me, I still feel my knee. Sounds strange but I 'm not feeling 100%.

"I'm happy I can be competing and being competitive even though my knee is not fully recovered yet. Winning this tournament means a lot to me, especially after the tough year I have had."

Victory for Nadal has proved the perfect tonic following Monte Carlo Masters defeat to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic earlier in April, and with the defence of his French Open title on the horizon the 26-year-old is pleased with his form leading up to Roland Garros.

"I am in a very good moment since I have been back," Nadal added. "I have only lost two matches and I have won four tournaments. The results are great, I could have never dreamed of these results."

Elsewhere, Maria Sharapova believes consistency was the key to her successful defence of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix title in Stuttgart.

The world No. 2 defeated Li Na 6-4 6-3 to extend her run to 16 matches unbeaten on clay, and is adamant that turning out similar performances will be vital in order to retain her French Open title in May.

"It's not really about one thing we do well or don't do well, you have to do a lot of things well on a consistent basis," Sharapova said. "It's really about who goes out and executes best on the day."

Men's rankings: 1. Novak Djokovic (SRB), 2. Roger Federer (SUI), 3. Andy Murray (GBR), 4. David Ferrer (ESP), 5. Rafael Nadal (ESP), 6. Tomas Berdych (CZE), 7. Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG), 8. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA), 9. Richard Gasquet (FRA), 10. Janko Tipsarevic (SRB).

Women's rankings: 1. Serena Williams (USA), 2. Maria Sharapova (RUS), 3. Victoria Azarenka (BLR), 4. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL), 5. Li Na (CHN), 6. Angelique Kerber (GER), 7. Sara Errani (ITA), 8. Petra Kvitova (CZE), 9. Samantha Stosur (AUS), 10. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN).

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