Rafael Nadal has earned his first singles title at the Qatar Open… and the first time he’s won his opening tournament of the year.
The 27-year-old Spanish tennis star, currently ranked No. 1 in the word, survived a second-set slip up to defeat France’s Gael Monfils 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 to win the tournament in Doha.
Nadal was in inspired form in the opening set, winning it in just 23 minutes.
But although Monfils led 3-0 in the second set, Nadal fought back before the Frenchman edged him in the tie-break.
Monfils was then broken at 1-2 in the decider and Nadal held on to win his 61st career title.
Nadal, who had struggled at times in some of his matches this week, was well on top in the first set as Monfils looked shell-shocked.
However, the Frenchman, who had looked the better player on his way to the final, upped his game from the start of the second set with some powerful groundstrokes but saw his advantage disappear as Nadal regained his composure to get back into the match.
But in the tie-break, a misplaced lob by Nadal gave Monfils a 4-2 advantage and he held on to that lead to force a decider.
After the excitement of the second set, the third set failed to live up to expectations and a Monfils error, when a forehand went long, put Nadal 3-1 up.
Nadal saved four break points in the next game and from then on he did enough to win the title and give him the perfect boost ahead of the Australian Open, which starts on Monday, January 13.