Rafael Nadal will not be participating in the Monte-Carlo Masters this year, as he continues to recover from a rib stress fracture, but it is hard to imagine the tournament without the Spaniard. No one has won the ATP 1000 event more times than the Mallorcan, who has lifted the trophy on 11 occasions till date.
Starting in 2005, the 21-time Grand Slam champion won the title eight times on the trot until 2012. The 2010 edition is of particular note, as the World No. 4 lost only 14 games along the way. This marks the record for the fewest games dropped while winning a Masters 1000 title.
After destroying Juan Carlos Ferrero (quarterfinals) and David Ferrer (semifinals), the five-time defending champion took on compatriot and sixth seed Fernando Verdasco in the final. Verdasco came into the final full of confidence as well, having defeated top seed Novak Djokovic in straight sets in the semifinals.
But the former World No. 7 was no match for the 35-year-old in the final. Nadal started the match in the same dominant fashion he had played throughout the tournament, taking the first set 6-0.
The second set was no different, as the Mallorcan raced to a 4-1 lead with two breaks of serve. However, the World No. 4 met some resistance from his opponent towards the end.
A typical, longrally at 40-40 saw both players tiring each other out by hitting the ball into all corners of the court. Verdasco matched the former World No. 1 shot-for-shot, trading crosscourt backhands and forehands down-the-line with gusto.
A rare drop shot from the 35-year-old finally gave the sixth seed an opportunity to gain the upper hand. Racing to the net, he lobbed the ball over the 21-time Grand Slam champion, hoping to get one step closer to breaking his opponent's serve.
Nadal, however, was up to the challenge. A lung-bursting run saw him reach the ball in time and he responded with a lob of his own. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough power on the shot, resulting in a fairly routine overhead smash for Verdasco.
Although the smash was placed as far away from the former World No. 1 as possible, he reached it with a desperate lunge, setting up another smash for the Spaniard. The second smash, once again to the side of the court farthest from Nadal, was also met by the World No. 4 with a slide.
Unable to believe his eyes, Fernando Verdasco decided to put an end to the rally once and for all with a cheeky drop shot. That proved to be just beyond Nadal's reach, as the ball was deemed to be a double-bounce by the referee.
Having finally won the point after what felt like a lifetime, the sixth seed fell to his knees and thanked the heavens in a dramatic gesture. The crowd, astounded by the level of tennis displayed by both players, stood up and wildly cheered.
Although Verdasco won the point, he could not capitalize on the momentum. The 21-time Grand Slam champion went on to hold his serve and then broke his opponent immediately after to take the championship match 6-0, 6-1.
Rafael Nadal went on to win the Rome Masters, Madrid Masters and Roland Garros in 2010
Following his Monte-Carlo triumph, Rafael Nadal went on to sweep the Rome Masters, the Madrid Masters and the French Open in 2010 -- the only instance where a player has won all four big clay events in a year.
In Rome, the Spaniard lost only one set (to Ernests Gulbis in the semifinals) and defeated David Ferrer in the final. The Mallorcan won in Madrid while losing only one set too (against Nicolas Almagro in the semifinals) and vanquished top seed Roger Federer in the final. At Roland Garros, the 21-time Grand Slam champion won without losing a set and bested Robin Soderling in the final.