Joy for Nadal in Qatar

Congleton Guardian: Rafael Nadal, pictured, overcame Gael Monfils in three sets (AP) Rafael Nadal, pictured, overcame Gael Monfils in three sets (AP)

Rafael Nadal enjoyed the ideal preparation for the Australian Open as he beat Gael Monfils to win the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha.

The world number one had looked short of his best in the build-up to the final, but he simply blew Monfils away during the opening set, which he took 6-1 after just 23 minutes.

But Frenchman Monfils bravely rallied in the second set, and led 3-0 at one point before edging a tie-breaker 7/5.

A thrilling final set had been in prospect, but when Nadal broke early in the decider he ruthlessly marched away to take a 6-1 6-7 (5/7) 6-2 victory and claim his 61st career title.

It also marks the first time the Spaniard has won the first tournament he has entered in a calendar year.

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