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Nadal makes more history in Monte Carlo; Italy's Fed Cup reign ends

"King of Clay" Rafael Nadal extended his title reign in the Principality of Monaco, beating David Ferrer in the final.
"King of Clay" Rafael Nadal extended his title reign in the Principality of Monaco, beating David Ferrer in the final.
  • Rafael Nadal wins seventh consecutive Monte Carlo title, beating David Ferrer in final
  • World No. 1 bounces back after two Masters Series final defeats in the U.S.
  • He extends his record total of Masters 1000 titles to 19 after winning 6-4 7-5
  • Italy's Fed Cup reign ends after 5-0 defeat by Russia in semifinal of women's event

(CNN) -- Rafael Nadal's status as the world's top tennis player may have dimmed slightly with two recent final defeats, but the Spaniard showed again on Sunday that he is the man to beat on clay.

The 24-year-old extended his record of most successive titles in an ATP Tour event with his seventh success in Monte Carlo, boosting his leading tally of Masters Series crowns to 19.

Nadal beat fourth-seeded compatriot David Ferrer 6-4 7-5 in the final as he shook off successive losses on hard-court surfaces to the pretender to his throne, Novak Djokovic, to claim his 44th career title and the $630,000 first prize.

He has won 30 of those on clay, putting him equal third in the post-1968 Open Era list alongside compatriot Manuel Orantes and Bjorn Borg.

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  • Tennis
  • Rafael Nadal
  • Novak Djokovic
  • David Ferrer
  • Fed Cup

"Rafa is incredible on clay. I mean, he's everywhere at the same time. He's the best player on clay in history," Ferrer told the tournament's official web site.

Djokovic, unbeaten in 2011, missed this tournament due to a knee injury but the Serbian is expected to line up alongside Nadal at the Madrid Masters at the start of next month.

Nadal won that event last year as he went through the clay season unbeaten, culminating in his fifth French Open triumph.

That run saw him beat Ferrer in the final of the Rome Masters, and he again denied the 29-year-old a 1,000-point haul in Monte Carlo on Sunday as he avenged his defeat at the Australian Open quarterfinals in January.

Ferrer dropped serve as early as the third game, but the world No. 6 broke back immediately as both players made uncharacteristic errors that would be symptomatic of a match also featuring moments of brilliance.

Nadal broke again in the fifth game and won the opening set in 70 minutes.

He won against serve in the third game of the second set before Ferrer fought back to lead 5-4, but Nadal broke him again to go 6-5 up and sealed victory when his opponent netted on the second match-point.

Nadal's only defeat in Monte Carlo came at his first appearance in 2003.

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Meanwhile, Russia ended Italy's Fed Cup reign by reaching the final of the women's teams event with a comprehensive 5-0 victory on Sunday.

The home team led 2-0 after the opening day in Moscow, and world No. 3 Vera Zvonareva put her country into the title match for the first time since her last appearance in the tournament in 2008 by beating Roberta Vinci 6-4 6-2.

With the tie over, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova stepped in for Saturday's singles winner Svetlana Kuznetsova to hand Sara Errani her second defeat as the Russian triumphed 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-4).

Pavlyuchenkova and Ekaterina Makarova then sealed the whitewash, beating Alberta Brianti and Maria-Elena Camerin 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 in the doubles.

Italy had won the title the past two years, but went into this match without top-ranked players Francesca Schiavone and Flavia Pennetta.

Four-time champions Russia will play the Czech Republic in the final after the other semifinal in Belgium went to the deciding doubles rubber after both teams won a singles tie on Sunday.

Czech No. 1 Petra Kvitova gave her country a 2-1 lead in Charleroi with a 7-5 4-6 2-6 victory over Yanina Wickmayer, Belgium's top-ranked player in the absence of injured world No. 2 Kim Clijsters.

But 106th-ranked Kirsten Flipkens leveled the score again by beating Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova 6-2 6-3.

Zahlavova-Strycova then paired up with Iveta Benesova to beat Flipkens and Wickmayer 6-4 6-4 to seal a 3-2 win.

Czechoslovakia won the title five times but not since separating into two nations following the Velvet Revolution in 1989.