Rafa Nadal began his year in perfect fashion with victory over Gael Monfils in the Qatar Open in Doha on Saturday.
The Spanish world number one put down an ominous marker for the forthcoming Australian Open as he claimed his 61st career title with a 6-1 6-7(5) 6-2 win over the flamboyant Frenchman in the desert city.
Victory took Nadal past Andre Agassi into eighth spot on the all-time list of ATP Tour title winners and helped him extend his lead at the top of the rankings over Novak Djokovic who opted not to play this week.
Monfils's two career wins over Nadal had both come in Doha, in 2009 and 2012, but apart from the second set he was out-muscled by the Spaniard who moved smoothly on the hard court and was far too rugged.
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