Nadal bids for Barcelona crown

BARCELONA - Rafael Nadal, fresh from his latest rewrite of the record books with a sixth straight title in Monte Carlo, carries massive momentum into this week's Barcelona Open.

BARCELONA - Rafael Nadal, fresh from his latest rewrite of the record books with a sixth straight title in Monte Carlo, carries massive momentum into this week's Barcelona Open.

The top seed at the Real Club de Tenis is also aiming for six on a row in the Catalan capital.

Any repeat of Sunday's towering feat would be all the more sweet after Team Nadal arrived from the French Riveria by car, a wise decision given the current volcano ash chaos at European airports.

"Right now I must be really happy at how I'm doing," said Nadal as he quietly celebrated his win in the principality.

Two compatriots yesterday followed the example of the confident world No 3, whose Monte Carlo victory snapped a victory drought of 50 weeks since his last title in Rome last May.

The 15th seed Nicolas Almagro put out compatriot Santiago Ventura 6-1, 6-2 on the opening day, while Guillermo Garcia-Lopez stopped Belgian qualifier Olivier Rochus 5-7, 6-1, 6-3.

Nadal and the other top eight seeds receive byes into the second round, with the top seed and tournament dominator to now face 42nd-ranked Garca Lopez standing 2-0 in the series dating to 2005.

The four-time Roland Garros champion also believes his overwhelming 6-0 6-1 Monte Carlo thrashing of countryman Fernando Gonzalez in less than 90 minutes puts the boot into the knockers, who suggested that the Spaniard's era might be fading due to his well documented knee injury absences of 2009 and 2010.

In other first-round play, Brazilian 13th seed Thomas Bellucci put out struggling Finn Jarkko Nieminen 6-4 6-4, while Dutch hope Thiemo de Bakker hammered Alejandro Falla of Colombia 6-1 6-0. - Sapa-AFP

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