World no. 1 Rafael Nadal was the top favorite to deliver another title in Barcelona in 2018, doing that in style after beating all five rivals in straight sets to lift his 11th trophy at this event from as many finals he entered!
Nadal claimed 58 wins from 61 matches in Barcelona after defeating the young Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-1 in an hour and 17 minutes, claiming his 77th ATP title to join John McEnroe in the fourth place of the Open era list, 17 behind Ivan Lendl in third.
Besides, it was his 55th ATP crown on clay, manufacturing that incredible tally after winning 401 matches from 436 encounters on the slowest surface in a career, proving once again his status of the most dominant player on a single surface in the history of our game.
Rafa did not lose a set on clay since Rome last year (46 sets in total) and Tsitsipas was unable to end that streak, getting broken five times and squandering all three break chances on the return to finish on the losing side in his first-ever ATP final.
The talented Greek had been playing on a high level for the entire week, beating four seeds and entering the final without dropping a set, only to find out how tough is to topple Rafael Nadal on his favorite surface, with the Spaniard controlling the pace from the baseline and overpowering his rival in the exchanges to win his second title in a row after Monte Carlo seven days ago.
With those 500 points, Nadal stayed in front of Roger Federer on the ATP ranking list, hoping for more of the same in Madrid where he also had to defend the title. Rafa landed 71% of the first serve in and despite some troubles on his second serve, he repelled all three break points in the fourth game of the second set when he was already 6-2, 3-0 in front to keep the pressure on Tsitsipas, taking 56% of the return points to create ten break chances.
Stefanos found it hard to defend his second serve (three out of 19) and had to give his serve away five times, unable to extend the match for a game or two. Both players had more errors than winners but Nadal tamed his shots more efficiently to control the scoreboard all the time and claim his most convincing triumph in all 11 Barcelona finals.
Tsitsipas held at love with a forehand winner in the opening game, which was very important for his confidence, spoiling all that when his forehand landed long in the third game to drop serve and send Nadal 2-1 up. Rafa held after deuce in game four to confirm the break, securing another one a couple of minutes later following a forehand mistake from the Greek, moving closer to the finish line in the opening set.
Nadal clinched the opener with a service winner at 5-2, moving a set away from the title and looking good to seal the deal in under an hour and a half. Tsitsipas couldn't endure the rallies against the fiercest possible rival, sending another forehand wide to lose serve at the start of set number two, sealing his fate when his forehand landed long in game three to find himself 6-2, 3-0 behind.
With one hand on the trophy, Nadal erased those three break points in game four and converted the third match point at 5-1, breaking Stefanos once again and starting a celebration of his 11th trophy in Barcelona from 14 appearances!