'I had a tough season in the last few years, but I've had better preparation this year, even with a tough start to the season'
Jubilant after winning his ninth Monte Carlo Masters, Spanish tennis maestro Rafael Nadal has admitted that he had worked really hard to clinch the Masters 1000 trophy and that it is an extremely `special` moment for him after some tough times.
Nadal, who defeated Andy Murray in the semi-final, took two hours and 46 minutes to outclass Frenchman Gael Monfils 7-5, 5-7, 6-0 in a morale-boosting victory.
Labelling his victory as `unbelievable`, the world number five admitted that it was a very emotional moment for him as he had been without a win from a really long time.
The 29-year-old, who claimed his 68th title from 100 finals on the ATP World Tour, said he had gained some confidence after the win and stressed that he was hoping to try his best in next week's event in Barcelona.
With the win, Nadal has equalled the record of 28 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles held by top-ranked Novak Djokovic.
Another record will be in Nadal’s sight when he heads to the Barcelona Open – the Spaniard can tie Guillermo Vilas's record of 49 clay court titles on home soil this week.
Nadal is a serial winner in the Catalan capital having won the title eight times, but has slumped to shock defeats in each of the past two years to Nicolas Almagro and Fabio Fognini.
"I had a tough season in the last few years, but I've had better preparation this year, even with a tough start to the season," said Nadal after lifting his 28th Masters title.
"I hope it helps my season with confidence for the next few tournaments. I've been able to play well for two events in a row -- Indian Wells and here -- winning against very tough opponents so that is very good for my confidence."
Nadal could meet enigmatic Italian Fognini in the quarter-finals as Nadal has been handed a tricky draw with compatriot David Ferrer also potentially awaiting in the semi-final.
"I've been given a tough route and, moreover, I am coming back from injury," said Fognini.
"I hope I can have a good tournament and take advantage of some players arriving a little tired after playing in the past few weeks."
Nadal will start against another fellow Spaniard with the winner of Marcel Granollers and Daniel Munoz de la Navas awaiting him in round two.