Rafa Nadal began his year in perfect fashion with victory over Gael Monfils in the final of the Qatar Open in Doha.

The Spanish world No 1 put down an ominous marker for the Australian Open as he claimed his 61st career title with a 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-2, win over the flamboyant Frenchman in the desert city.

It is the first time Nadal has won his opening tournament of the year. His success moved him past Andre Agassi into eighth spot on the all-time list of ATP Tour title winners and saw him extend his lead at the top of the rankings over Novak Djokovic who opted not to play last week.

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Monfils's two career wins over Nadal both came in Doha, in 2009 and 2012, but other than in the second set he was outmuscled by the Spaniard who moved smoothly on the hard court.