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Emotional Nadal Hails "Very Important Victory"

Rafael Nadal reflects on strong week in Monte-Carlo

If Rafael Nadal needed confirmation that he is close to his top form, he certainly got it on Sunday, claiming a 7-5, 5-7, 6-0 victory over Gael Monfils in the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters final.

Nadal, who lifted the trophy in the Principality for an unprecendented ninth time, revealed that it is a validation of all the hard work he has put in over the past year. For the Spaniard, a first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title since 2014 is a significant step in the right direction.

"The victory here confirms that I am better and I am very happy," said Nadal. "It is a very, very emotional week for me at a very important event. Monte-Carlo is one of the most important places in my career without a doubt. To win again here after three years is something so special for me.

"I worked hard to have this trophy with me. I am enjoying this moment. It is an emotional moment after some tough moments. But that's part of life. It is part of sport in general. I hope and I believe that this week and in Indian Wells, these two tournaments, playing at a very high level, is so important. That's what I needed."

Nearly one year after falling to World No. 2 Andy Murray on home clay in Madrid, Nadal exacted revenge in the Monte-Carlo semis and would survive a high-octane encounter against a surging Monfils for the title. The Spaniard admits that after a trying period that saw his form and confidence dip, these big wins in big matches make a huge difference.

"I have been working hard," Nadal added. "I have been working hard for a long time. I said enough about the nerves. I was nervous during the matches last year.

"Working hard every day slows that down. It's not something that stays here and disappears. The victories help. Still not 100 per cent perfect, but it is much, much better. I don't have that feeling I had last year on court. I'm very happy for that. In terms of tennis, I am playing better. It's obvious.

"I was able to raise my level yesterday in the second and in the third, and today again in the third. That's something I missed a lot recently. This week I was able to do it."

Nadal's focus next shifts to his home country as he bids to add a ninth title at another ATP World Tour event - Barcelona. Two-time defending champion and second seed Kei Nishikori looms in a potential blockbuster final.

"To compete well two weeks in a row is something so positive. I have another chance next week in Barcelona and I am going to try my best again."

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