ATP Barcelona: Peerless Rafael Nadal tops Tsitsipas to defend the title

Tennis - This is the 11th title for Nadal in Barcelona and he stays in front of Federer in the ATP rankings

by Jovica Ilic
ATP Barcelona: Peerless Rafael Nadal tops Tsitsipas to defend the title

World number 1 Rafael Nadal was the top favorite to deliver another title in Barcelona and he did that in style, beating all five rivals in straight sets to lift his 11th trophy at this event from as many finals he entered! Nadal is now 58-3 in Barcelona after defeating the young Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2 6-1 in an hour and 17 minutes to claim his 77th ATP title, joining John McEnroe in the fourth place of the Open era list, 17 behind Ivan Lendl in third. In addition, this is his 55th ATP crown on clay and he has won staggering 401 matches from 436 played on the slowest surface, 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 and Tsitsipas was unable to end his streak (Rafa has won the last 46 sets he played on clay), losing serve five times and missing all three break points he created on the return to end on the losing side in his first ever ATP final.

The talented Greek has been playing great the whole week, beating four seeds and entering the final without dropping a set, but Nadal proved to be too tough to handle, controlling the pace from the baseline and overpowering his rival in the exchanges to win his second title in a row after Monte Carlo last Sunday.

With these 500 points, Nadal would stay world number 1 in front of Roger Federer on tomorrow's ATP list and his focus is now switching to Madrid where he also has to defend the title. The Spaniard served at 71% and despite some troubles on his second serve he kept his service games intact, fending off all three break points (all in the fourth game of the second set when he was already 6-2 3-0 up) to keep the pressure on Tsitsipas and winning 56% of the return points to create 10 break chances.

Stefanos found it hard to defend his second serve (3 from 16) and he had to give his serve away five times, unable to extend the match or to soften his defeat. Both players had more errors than winners but Nadal tamed his shots in a more efficient way to control the scoreboard all the time and claim his most convincing wins in all 11 Barcelona finals.

Tsitsipas held at love with a forehand winner in the opening game, which was very important for his confidence, but he fired a forehand long in the third game to drop serve and send Nadal 2-1 up. Rafa held after a deuce in game four to confirm the break and he broke at love for the second time in a row after another forehand error from Stefanos in game five, moving closer to grab the opener in the best possible way.

He did that with a service winner in game eight, wrapping up the first part of the match 6-2 in 40 minutes and hoping for more of the same in the rest of the match. Tsitsipas could not endure the rallies against the toughest possible rival and he sent another forehand wide to lose his serve at the start of set number two, sealing his fate when his forehand landed long in game three to fall 6-2 3-0 behind.

With one hand already on the trophy, Nadal saved three break points in game four and he converted his third match point in game seven, breaking Stefanos once again and starting a celebration of his 11th trophy in Barcelona from 14 appearances! Final result:


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Atp Barcelona Rafael Nadal