Last year, Rafael Nadal claimed his 12th Barcelona Open title, conquering one of his favorite tournaments where the stadium carries his name. It was Nadal's first ATP title since the 2020 Roland Garros, and he had to work hard to earn it.
Rafa lost a set in the second and third round, and he raised his level after that to advance into the final. The Spaniard had to give his 120% in the title clash against an in-form Stefanos Tsitsipas, beating him 6-4, 6-7, 7-5 in three hours and 37 minutes after fending off a match point!
Thus, Nadal remained perfect in the Barcelona title matches, saving that match point in the decider's tenth game to prevail in the most extended best-of-three final since the start of the ATP Tour in 1990. Tsitsipas won the title in Monte Carlo and reached the Barcelona final without losing a set, playing on a high level and giving his best against Nadal in a memorable final.
The Spaniard prevailed in the decider's closing stages to lift the 61st ATP title on clay and celebrate in Barcelona for the first time since 2018. Rafa saved 11 out of 13 break chances and produced four breaks that sent him over the top, surviving that match point and rattling off the last three games to leave the opponent behind and bring the trophy home.
Rafael Nadal shared thoughts about an epic 2021 Barcelona Open final.
Like at the Australian Open in February, Stefanos refused to surrender, fending off match points in the second set before taking it in the tie break thanks to Nadal's colossal double fault at 6-6.
They stayed neck and neck in the decider, and Rafa saved that match point in game ten before delivering the crucial break a few minutes later. After the match, the Spaniard admitted he never played a similar final in Barcelona, praising the Greek and saying it was a significant victory that should help him in the upcoming tournaments.
"I think I never played a final like this in Barcelona; it means a lot to me, especially against a player like Stefanos, who won the Monte Carlo crown and reached the final here without losing a set. It is a significant victory for me.
I think I have increased my level during the whole week, and this triumph confirms it. That's important for today. It means a lot to me to lift the trophy, not only for my current form but for the future as well," Rafael Nadal said.