Barcelona, Spain – Spanish world No. 2 Rafael Nadal defeated countryman David Ferrer 7-6 (1), 7-5 Sunday in the Barcelona Open final, taking his 7th consecutive title at the tournament.
"This was the toughest day" of "this clay-court season," Nadal said.
Nadal needed two hours and 40 minutes to beat Ferrer, who is ranked No. 6 in the world.
"David pushed me to the physical limit and today, from a tennis standpoint, I did not play a brilliant match," Nadal said.
The second-ranked Nadal's 21st straight victory on clay followed up his eighth straight win in Monte Carlo, as Nadal won the 10th all-Spanish ATP final for a 48th career win.
The sixth-ranked Ferrer lost his fourth Barcelona Open final to Nadal, who saved 12 of 15 break points for a 34th straight victory at Barcelona.
Nadal skipped toward the net in celebration after hitting a backhand winner on match point. The six-time French Open champion displayed his normal resilience and steady play to overcome Ferrer in a match marked by grinding rallies and spectacular shotmaking more reminiscent of a major final.
The 25-year-old Nadal has not lost in Barcelona since the second round in 2003, when countryman Alex Corretja beat him.
"David deserves (to win) this tournament more than anybody" and "I hope he wins it some day," Nadal said.
Ferrer has now lost four Barcelona Open finals to Nadal in the past five years.
The two also played in the final here in 2008, 2009 and 2011.
"I tried everything, like always, but Rafa is Rafa, and we all already know how good he is. I've lost four times, but I've lost to one of the greats," Ferrer said.
The Mallorcan holds a 14-4 career advantage over Ferrer and an 11-1 edge on clay, with the latter's only win on that surface coming in 2004 when Nadal was only 18 and ranked 57th in the world.
Nadal, who has won 10 Grand Slam championships, is considered the "king of clay," having won six French Open titles.
The Barcelona Open is one of the biggest clay-court events on the ATP calendar and a key tune-up for the French Open, which gets underway in late May.
Contains reporting by the Associated Press and EFE.