Nadal back on track with Argentina Open win
RAFAEL Nadal won his first title in nearly nine months on Sunday, beating Juan Monaco 6-4, 6-1 to win the Argentina Open.
The Spanish player's triumph was his first since he won a ninth French Open title at Roland Garros in June.
It was his 65th career crown on all surfaces, moving him into sole possession of fifth place on the Open Era all-time list led by the 109 titles of American Jimmy Connors.
He broke out of a tie for fifth with Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras.
"They have an impressive history," Nadal said of Sampras and Borg. "That's why it is an honour to be compared to them."
He claimed his 46th career clay-court title, second-most in the Open Era behind the 49 of Argentina's Guillermo Vilas.
Most importantly, the victory showed that Nadal is headed in the right direction.
The Spaniard, who battled injury last year after his Roland Garros triumph, exited early in Qatar and fell in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in January.
He had fallen to fourth in the world after a semi-final loss to Italian Fabio Fognini in Rio de Janeiro last week, the first time he has not figured in the top three since August 2013.
With this win, he is projected to return to third in the world rankings, again overtaking Britain's Andy Murray.
"I'm coming off a season that has not been easy - injuries, accidents," said Nadal, who had to cope with wrist trouble and an appendectomy last year.
"The beginning of this year has been a bit tricky after some time out but, little by little, we have found positive feelings."
The 28-year-old left-hander needed 1hr 26min on court to notch his sixth victory over Monaco in as many meetings on clay.