'Facing Rafael Nadal was not fun,' Stefanos Tsitsipas says

Rafael Nadal toppled Stefanos Tsitsipas in the 2018 Barcelona Open final

by Jovica Ilic
'Facing Rafael Nadal was not fun,' Stefanos Tsitsipas says

Stefanos Tsitsipas reached his first ATP final in Barcelona 2018. The young Greek played well at the ATP 500 event and scored notable wins to advance into the title clash. Stefanos entered Pista Rafa Nadal against, you guess, a ten-time champion Rafael Nadal!

The Spaniard proved too strong for the Greek and beat him 6-2, 6-1 in an hour and 17 minutes for his 77th ATP title. Speaking about the match, Stefanos admitted he was not ready for such a strong challenge in his first ATP final.

The entire stadium was on Rafa's side, and he could not find the rhythm or the level to contest him. The young Greek lost serve five times and squandered all three break chances to finish runner-up. Tsitsipas beat four seeds and entered the final without dropping a set.

Still, that was not enough against the king of clay. The home favorite controlled the pace from the baseline and overpowered his rival in the exchanges to win his second consecutive title after Monte Carlo. Nadal landed 71% of the first serve in.

Despite some troubles on the second serve, he repelled all three break points in the second set's fourth game while already 6-2, 3-0 in front. The pressure was on Tsitsipas, and he gave away 56% of the points behind the initial shot and faced ten break chances.

Stefanos struggled to defend his second serve, winning three out of 19 points and allowing Rafa to race over the finish line with five breaks on his tally.

Stefanos Tsitsipas was not ready for the Rafael Nadal clash in 2018.

Both players had more errors than winners, but Nadal tamed his shots more efficiently to control the scoreboard and claim his most convincing triumph in all 11 Barcelona finals!

Rafa did not push for winners at any cost. He forced over 20 mistakes from Stefanos and welcomed the rival's 25 unforced errors to control the pace. Tsitsipas stayed in touch in the shortest and most advanced rallies, and Nadal overpowered him in the mid-range ones.

The Greek got broken at love twice in a row in the opener, and the Spaniard held at 5-2 to wrap it up in style. Stefanos lost the ground at the start of the second set and experienced two straight breaks to fall 6-2, 3-0 behind.

Rafa fended off all three break points in game four to keep his serve intact and wrapped up the triumph with another return game at 5-1. "My first Barcelona Open final versus Rafa was not fun. I faced Rafa on the court carrying his name, with the entire stadium supporting him, which made sense. The first time I played against Rafa, I was not ready; I had not picked it up yet," Stefanos Tsitsipas said.

Rafael Nadal Stefanos Tsitsipas Barcelona Open