Ever since 2005, Rafael Nadal has been the dominant figure in men's tennis on the slowest surface, winning the majority of clay-court tournament he has entered and ruling the surface as no one did since Anthony Wilding 100 years earlier.
One of his most dominant and also most essential titles on beloved clay came in Monte Carlo 2010, lifting his sixth consecutive trophy in the Principality and returning to the winning way after almost a year without enjoying success on the Tour!
Nadal was off to a flying start in 2009, conquering the Australian Open, Indian Wells, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, and Rome before suffering a shocking loss at the Roland Garros to Robin Soderling which took the rhythm and confidence from him, unable to win another title until spring 2010.
The Spaniard didn't play badly in the past 11 months before Monte Carlo, collecting eight losses in the semi-final or final as he missed that final touch that would have sent him over the top against the biggest rivals.
That all changed at his familiar ground in Monte Carlo, winning his 37th ATP title in the most potent style that was ever seen at the Masters 1000 event, writing the record books and starting his charge towards the ATP throne again.
Namely, Nadal lost only 14 games in five encounters to demolish all of his opponents and get his hands on the trophy that turned his season in the right direction. He would carry this form into the rest of the clay season, winning all three Masters 1000 tournaments and Roland Garros for the first time in his career in a single season and becoming world no.
1 again. Rafa toppled all of his opponents to reach the final and Fernando Verdasco stood no chance in the title match as well, losing 6-0 6-1 in an hour and 26 minutes in what has been one of the most one-sided Masters 1000 finals since the series was established in 1990.
It was their tenth meeting and the tenth victory for Nadal who never lost a set against Fernando on clay in four encounters. Rafa dropped 36% of the points in his games but it didn't cost him much, facing five break chances in his final service game and keeping the pressure on the other side of the net all the time.
He was all over Verdasco on the return, grabbing 64% of the points and notching six breaks from 14 opportunities to rule the scoreboard and bring the match home in no time at all. Fernando couldn't do much on the return besides that last game but we have to say he could have clinched a few more games, reaching deuce in five different games and having a 40-30 or 30-40 in nine out of 13 games, only to lose the majority of those against a focused rival who kept his level on a high note from start to finish.
Fernando managed to find some range in set number two and to stay on the level terms with Nadal when it comes to winners, something we can't say about his errors tally that was still very high, often missing in the most important moments to attach only a single game by his name on the scoreboard.
He was incapable of moving Nadal from the comfort zone or imposing his forehand, with Rafa defending with ease to keep his backhand side safe and controlling the pace with his deep and powerful topspin forehands that Verdasco failed to deal with.
Nadal had a slim 6-5 advantage in service winners and 16-13 in the direct points from the field, with a forehand as the dominant shot on each side. Those numbers were far from enough to create such a huge contrast on the scoreboard and that brings us to the errors department where Verdasco lost the ground to ruin his chances for a more favorable result.
Nadal tamed his shots nicely, hitting from the comfort zone and defending against rival's attacks with an efficiency that forced Verdasco to make too many errors, seeking lines and those small parts of the court that Rafa would leave open.
Rafa stayed on nine unforced errors while Fernando counted to 25, missing equally from both wings and usually in the pivotal moments that could have kept him in the encounter a couple of games longer. He also had 14 forced mistakes and Nadal stayed on just seven, bringing the overall errors to 39-16 in Nadal's favor, a segment that gave him the title on that day.
Rafa also had a clear 19-5 advantage in the exchanges with nine strokes or more, constructing the points more efficiently and staying away from mistakes, building a 21-15 lead in the mid-range rallies with five to eight shots.
The shortest exchanges up to four strokes also worked in his favor, winning 23 out of 38 to emerge as a deserved champion for the sixth straight year in the Principality.