DOHA - World number one Rafael Nadal defeated France's Gael Monfils 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 on Saturday to win the ATP Tour's Qatar Open.
It was Nadal's 61st career title and took him to eighth on the all-time list, passing Andre Agassi.
"I never had the chance to win here before. I had match points against Davydenko in the final a few years back," said Nadal, who was runner-up to Russia's Nikolay Davydenko in 2010.
"I'm happy to start the season like this, it's the first time I have won a title in the first week of the year and it's a great way to start the season."
Nadal took his record over Monfils to 9-2 with the Frenchman having achieved both his wins over the Spaniard in Doha, in 2009 and 2012.
It was a fine start for Nadal to a year in which he hopes to ward off Novak Djokovic's challenge for the world number one spot, and in a month when he hopes to regain the Australian Open title after a five-year interval.
His standard rose increasingly as the two-hour contest wore on, and his baseline rallying gradually became tenaciously indestructible, its peak coming in the fourth and fifth games of the final set.
"A title is always a title especially in the first week when I have never won before," added Nadal.
"I started to see some great play from Gael, and if he (continues to) play like this he has a good chance of reaching the top ten."