Rafael Nadal on song in Barcelona

Rafael Nadal wins Barcelona Open 2016

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Spaniard Rafael Nadal has hit form just weeks before the French Open after he beat Kei Nishikori to win the Barcelona Open on Sunday.

Nadal equalled Guillermo Vilas’ record of 49 career clay-court titles after securing a 6-4 7-5 win to claim the title in Barcelona for the ninth time.

The former world number one was below his best on clay last year and some sections of the media claimed he may be past his best.

However, the 29-year-old proved he is still a force to be reckoned with as he fought hard to battle past his Japanese opponent.

He won the Monte Carlo Masters the previous weekend but was under severe pressure from the off on Sunday, however Nadal’s impeccable forehand and good defensive work ultimately proved to be too much for his opponent.

Nadal has now won back-to-back titles for the first time since 2013 and it comes at the perfect time, with the French Open on the horizon.

He is 4.00 to win at Roland Garros and the Majorcan star was delighted to come through a tough match against Nishikori.

Nadal said: “I was playing against the number six player in the world and, if you don’t play at your best, you aren’t going to win.

“I served well and that allowed me to play better. In the second set I missed several chances and at the end it was very close, but I stayed mentally strong.”

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