MONACO -- Rafael Nadal finally managed to beat Novak Djokovic in a final, thrashing the top-ranked Serb, 6-3, 6-1, on Sunday to win the Monte Carlo Masters for the eighth consecutive year and end a run of seven straight defeats to his rival in title matches.
Nadal was hardly troubled by Djokovic in this one and broke the Serb's serve five times in a one-sided affair on clay to win his 42nd straight match at Monte Carlo. It was his first title since last year's French Open and the 47th of his career.
"I always loved this tournament since I was a kid. One of my dreams was to play here," Nadal said. "It's a historic tournament [where] you see all your idols when you are a kid playing here."
The 25-year-old Nadal thrust his hands in the air after clinching victory in style with an ace that flew past the beleaguered Djokovic, who beat Nadal in an epic Australian Open final this year.
"If you see the finals I win here, all the finals are against probably top-six players," Nadal said. "That's something that makes the victories even more difficult."
Nadal now leads their head-to-head series, 17-14, but it was his first win against Djokovic since an early match at the 2010 ATP Finals in London. The Serb had beaten Nadal in three consecutive Grand Slam finals and handed him his only defeats on clay last year.
"Winning against Novak in [the] final after losing a few ones is important for me," Nadal said. "My level of tennis was high during the last four matches."
Nadal was also relieved to come through the tournament without further aggravating his troublesome left knee, having rested it and had treatment for three weeks before coming to Monte Carlo.
"I am very happy because my knee is not limiting [my] movement. I can run 100 percent," Nadal said.
Nadal has won a record 20 Masters titles, putting him one ahead of 16-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer.
Djokovic, who has been playing through grief since the death of his grandfather Thursday, said he felt emotionally drained and was unable to summon the mental strength he needed to dig deep against Nadal.
"I definitely don't want to take away anything from Rafa's win. He was a better player," Djokovic said. "But it's a fact that I just didn't have any emotional energy left in me."
Djokovic's grandfather was buried back home in Serbia on Saturday.
"I've never been caught up in this kind of emotional situation before," Djokovic said. "I'm just happy to reach the finals really under the circumstances. It's been a very difficult week for me to go through mentally."
He has not decided what his schedule will be over the next few days.
"I obviously have to go to visit my grandfather's grave and see, because I wasn't there [at the] funeral yesterday," he said. "So I'll be there."
Djokovic struggled to find a rhythm, making 25 unforced errors to just 11 winners. Nadal, meanwhile, timed most of his shots to perfection and pushed Djokovic further back.
Serena wins clincher
KHARKIV, Ukraine -- Serena Williams defeated Lesia Tsurenko, 6-3, 6-2, to send the United States back into the Fed Cup World Group by clinching a series victory over Ukraine.
Williams' win gave the U.S. an unassailable 3-0 lead. Christina McHale later won, 7-5, 6-3, against 17-year-old Ukrainian Elina Svitolina to secure a sweep of the singles matches. Americans Liezel Huber and Sloane Stephens completed a 5-0 rout with a 6-4, 6-1 win over 19-year-old twins Lyudmyla and Nadiya Kichenok in doubles.
Williams was making her first Fed Cup appearance on foreign soil in more than a decade to become eligible for the U.S. team at the London Olympics.
"We're back in the World Group where we want to be and it feels really good to get two points," she said.