Rafael Nadal captured an historic 10th Monte-Carlo Masters championship on Sunday following another dominant clay court game against compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-1, 6-3 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. "The King of Clay" has officially returned. After three months of futile title-hunting, the 30-year-old Nadal became the winningest player on the red dirt by pulling off a "La Decima" in Monte-Carlo. According to the ATP World Tour website, Nadal’s 50th clay-court crown finally separates him from Guillermo Vilas, whom he had shared the record of most clay court tournament crowns with for about a year.

“I feel lucky to keep playing tennis [and] being healthy all those years, in order to compete in one of the most beautiful events of the year, without a doubt. I am very happy to win another one. For me, it is a very important day in my career,” said Nadal, who accepted the trophy from his Serene Highness Albert II, Sovereign Prince of Monaco. (ATP).

Intriguing season

All of a sudden, this year’s ATP season is looking more and more like 2008 or 2009, when Nadal and Roger Federer were taking turns in big tournaments. Nadal, who moved one ATP Masters title shy of tying Novak Djokovic’s 30 Masters crowns, improved his record in title matches to 70-35. More importantly, the Mallorcan Bull preserved his streak of winning at least one ATP World Tour title in a season for the 14th straight year.

Next week, Nadal is aiming to pull off another “La Decima” in Barcelona, where world’s no.1 Andy Murray, Dominic Thiem, and Monte-Carlo finals opponent Ramos-Vinolas will be competing as well. Back-to-back tourney runner-up Kei Nishikori withdrew from the competition, citing a wrist injury.

Real test has yet to come

After Barcelona, the King will shift his focus on Madrid, Rome and then at Roland Garros, the end goal of this clay court campaign.

There, Nadal looks to end a two-year title drought and grab his 10th French Open crown.

However, the real test for Nadal comes after the clay court season when Federer is expected to play in full force. After capturing the first big three tournament of the year (Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami), the Swiss Maestro will be one of the favorites, if not the top dog, at Wimbledon. On the other hand, Nadal hasn’t had much success on grass in the past 4-5 years, and it will be interesting to see how the Spaniard will attack his weakest surface.