Nadal walks away with Qatar ExxonMobil trophy
A week of Spanish sporting success in Doha continued tonight with Rafa Nadal taking his first Qatar ExxonMobil Open Singles title.
After Real Madrid’s victory in the international football friendly on Thursday night, world number 1 Nadal defeated Frenchman Gael Monfils 6-1, 6-7, 6-2 in a little over two hours. Nadal’s singles title joins his doubles success here in 2009.
Monfils, who has made the final here twice before, hadn’t dropped a set on his way to the final, including the defeat of his compatriot and defending champion Richard Gasquet.
Nadal has been struggling to hit top gear this week, having been taken to three sets in two previous rounds. But there’s no doubting his fighting spirit, as seen in last night’s semi-final, when he came back to beat German qualifier Peter Gojowcyzk having lost the first set.
The crowd may have been hoping and expecting a straightforward victory for Nadal, but both Monfils’ previous victories over Nadal have been straight set wins in the Qatar Open, including their most recent encounter, the 2012 semi-final.
So it was never going to be easy for Nadal, but you wouldn’t have known that from the way he took the first set 6-1 in barely 20 minutes in a blistering display of power and accuracy.
It looked like we were going to be in for a very short evening’s entertainment, but Monfils fought back with a vengeance in the hour-long second set, which the Frenchman eventually won on a tie break, cheered on by an increasingly vocal crowd.
And so we had a deciding set to end the tournament and after Nadal secured an early break of his opponent’s serve, his victory was never really in doubt. The atmosphere inside Centre Court was fantastic and played no small part in making the match so entertaining.
As the finalists received their trophies, a spectacular fireworks show sent the Doha crowd home delighted by a thrilling and memorable conclusion to what has been a very well-organised and professional tournament.
Photo credit: Nat High