Rafael Nadal took home his fourth title of the year Sunday, defeating Nicolas Almagro 6-4, 6-3 to win the Barcelona Open for the eighth time.
This latest victory, with next month's French Open approaching, is a promising sign that Nadal is getting back to full strength from a knee injury that sidelined him since last summer
"I am very happy," he 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."
After trailing 3-0 in the first set, Nadal found his form and broke his fellow Spaniard in three of his next four service games to take command in a final played in a drizzle.
He has made six straight finals since returning from his knee injury. This title, the 54th of his career, comes one week after his eight-year reign at Monte Carlo ended with a loss to top-ranked Novak Djokovic.
Nadal won the Barcelona Open from 2005-09 but did not play in 2010 because of a knee injury. He has won every year since. He has won 39 straight matches on the red clay at Real Club de Tenis, his last loss coming 10 years ago to Spain's Davis Cup captain, Alex Corretja.
Almaro, ranked 12th, has lost all 10 of his matches to Nadal. He enjoyed a good start Sunday and broke Nadal's first service game with a forehand winner before holding serve to love.
Almagro kept Nadal moving with deep backhands. He broke again for a 3-0 lead following a long rally when he swatted a running crosscourt return. But Nadal then showed why he hasn't lost in Barcelona in a decade, reeling off four straight games.
"It was important for me to get the break, down 3-0," Nadal said. "Almagro is having a great season and I wish him the best."
Almagro was serving and up 30-0 when he made a series of errors, including a double-fault that brought the score to three games apiece. Nadal took control by breaking Almagro a third time. Down 0-30, Nadal saved a point by returning a lob with a shot from between his legs before Almagro dropped the game and set.
In the second set, Nadal maintained the pressure and broke to lead 3-1. Nadal served out the match to love, and was soon applauding the fans who had cheered both players.
"He showed again why he is the best player in history on this surface," Almagro said, adding he'll try to win the title next year "if Rafa lets me."
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.