BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 24: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates defeating Kei Nishikori of Japan in the final match during day seven of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona on April 24, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal produced a series of fine displays to lift the Monte Carlo Masters crown following his victory over Gael Monfils in the final.

The Spaniard was on top form throughout the tournament, defeating Andy Murray in the semi-finals with a comeback win before triumphing over Monfils to secure the crown for the ninth time in his career.

Nadal will have been relieved to clinch the title as injuries and a lack of form had caused a lengthy drought since his last title win, with his last success on the ATP Tour coming in May 2014 at the Madrid Masters.

He will now aim for a 10th title at the French Open with the latest tennis odds at the time of writing pricing him at 3/1 to win the competition.

The 29-year-old’s fall from grace following his triumph at Roland Garros - the 14th Grand Slam title of his career - was staggering to see, as injuries along with a case of appendicitis brought a huge decline in his form.

He struggled for his usual high energy on the court and, as a result, was dumped out of the Australian Open with relative ease by Tomas Berdych. Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic ended his dominant run at the French Open with a victory in straight sets in the quarter-finals of the competition.

Nadal failed to raise the level of his game at Wimbledon and the US Open, exiting both tournaments with a whimper in the early rounds.

Nadal’s year was to end with a last-eight defeat to Stanislas Wawrinka at the Paris Masters, leaving him without a title win on the ATP Masters Tour for the first time since 2004.

The Spaniard hit rock bottom at the start of 2016 when he fell at the first hurdle of the Australian Open to his compatriot Fernando Verdasco in a five-set thriller. That was his earliest defeat at a Grand Slam since his humiliating defeat to Steve Darcis in the first round of Wimbledon three years ago.

Defeats in the last four of the Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires Masters followed as Dominic Thiem and Pablo Cuevas bested him in three sets, while his old foe, Djokovic, prevented him from earning a first final berth in almost a year by defeating Nadal at Indian Wells.

Despite the setbacks, the 29-year-old had begun to show glimpses of his best form, although it was not enough to match the top players in the game.

Nadal was to suffer a worrying moment during his second-round match in the Miami Masters when a dizzy spell forced him to retire against Damir Dzumhur, although the 23-year-old had started to take control of the contest.

He managed to overcome this problem in time for the Monte Carlo Masters and, on his favourite surface, he breezed past Aljaz Bedene and Thiem in the early stages of the competition, setting up a showdown against Wawrinka in the last eight.

The Spaniard displayed his old class to power past the Swiss with ease, producing an array of fine groundstrokes around the court to book his place in the semis.

Murray tested Nadal’s resilience in the match, forcing the number five seed to come from a set down, but the 29-year-old gave his strongest indicator of a resurgence with a mesmerising display to defeat the Scot.

His performance in the opening two sets of the final were far from perfect as the match was evenly poised heading into the decider. However, he turned on the magic with a 6-0 thrashing of Monfils to secure his first ATP 1000 crown in almost two years.

Nadal will now set his sights firmly on regaining the French Open title to secure his 10th crown at Roland Garros.