Barcelona Flashback: Rafael Nadal achieves 'La Decima'

Rafael Nadal claimed his tenth Barcelona Open title in 2017

by Jovica Ilic
Barcelona Flashback: Rafael Nadal achieves 'La Decima'

Rafael Nadal has been the dominant figure in Monte Carlo and Barcelona since 2005. Twelve years later, the great Spaniard achieved 'La Decima' at both events, conquering his tenth title at notable clay-court tournaments and writing history books.

Rafa met Dominic Thiem in the 2017 Barcelona Open final and scored a 6-4, 6-1 triumph in an hour and 31 minutes, lifting a beautiful Trofeo Conde de Godo for the tenth time. Nadal played on a high level from the first point, covering the court superbly and pushing Thiem for an extra shot.

In the end, the Austrian started making more and more errors, fading from the court in the second set to settle with the runner-up prize. It was Nadal's 71st ATP title and the 51st on clay, claiming the trophy on the court that has carried his name from that year!

Rafa was the pre-match favorite, almost as always on the slowest surface. However, Dominic showed he could compete against Rafa on dirt, beating him in the Buenos Aires semi-final a year ago. Thiem stayed in touch until the first set's closing stages, playing aggressive tennis just like against Andy Murray before that tenth game.

He fell apart in the decisive moment and never looked like a serious competitor again. Nadal was rock solid from the baseline, imposing his forehand in the exchanges and defending his backhand nicely to overpower the rival and cross the finish line first.

The Spaniard dropped 15 points in nine service games, fending off the only break chance in the match's first game and never offering another opportunity to his opponent. Thiem failed to repeat those numbers behind the initial shot.

He lost almost half of the points in his games and faced eight break points. He saved five of the first six to limit the damage, but Nadal converted the final two to seal the deal in the second set. Nadal faced that early break point after sending a backhand long.

He saved it with a superb volley and brought the game home after two deuces to avoid an early setback.

Rafael Nadal toppled Dominic Thiem to claim his tenth Barcelona Open title in 2017.

Thiem would never reach another deuce on the return, as Nadal found the correct pattern to avoid troubles and keep the pressure on the other side.

Both players served well in the next four games, and Nadal earned two break chances at 3-2, only to be denied by Thiem's forehand winners. Nonetheless, Dominic crumbled under pressure in game ten when he served to stay in the opener.

He wasted a game point and netted a backhand to hand the game and the set to Nadal after 50 minutes of entertaining tennis. Thiem played more risky shots in the closing stages to penetrate Nadal, although that did not end well, as he failed to control those strong and dangerous strokes.

With momentum on his side, Rafa played even stronger in set number two, breezing past his four service games and taking every chance on the return to make life difficult for his rival. Thiem fended off three break opportunities in the second game.

However, it was clear that his game from the first half of the first set had vanished, with a matter of time when Nadal would find a way to move in front. That occurred in game four after a 14-stroke rally and Rafa's forehand winner, forging a 3-1 advantage and never looking back.

The mighty Spaniard sealed the deal with another break in game six when Dominic hit a forehand long to get broken at love. Nadal propelled himself over the finish line following a service winner at 5-1, rattling off the last five games to celebrate the tenth crown from 13 Barcelona trips.

Rafael Nadal Barcelona Open