Sixteen years have passed since the first course. Sixteen years since the succulent appetizer that had allowed him to break the Top 10 wall for the first time. Yet after having eaten almost everything, Rafael Nadal has not lost his hunger yet.
After three hours and thirty-seven minutes of play, the Spanish champion manages to break down the resistance of Stefanos Tsitsipas and grab the title in Barcelona for the twelfth time in his career. In the remake of the final dated 2018 (the rematch of the fourth in Melbourne Park) Rafa actually manages to win the first set by recovering a late break.
The Spaniard does not take advantage of a handful of match points in the tenth game of the second set, but at the end of a side-by-side marathon (in which he too finds himself forced to cancel a championships point) he delivers the decisive push at the foot of the jeu decisif.
Emblematic 6-4 6-7 (6) 7-5 final. The number three in the world grabs the title number eighty-one in his career, the sixty-first on red and the sixteenth at the five hundred level, with his eyes obviously turned to Madrid, Rome and Paris.
He back from the misstep in Monte-Carlo, a sign. Nadal does not allow himself to be conditioned by the frenzy. Even if Tsitsipas drags on 3-1 thanks to a half-match of eight consecutive points. The Spaniard, who is struggling to find support from the baseline, is even forced to cancel a handful of balls for the Greece double-break.
A little bad. In the moment of maximum difficulty, the number one of the big group almost completely eliminates the errors from the technical project and above all finds the weapons to push back the Greek talent in the course of prolonged exchanges.
Patrick McEnroe on Rafael Nadal
“The longer it goes on clay the better he gets and the more devastating Rafael Nadal is,” said Patrick McEnroe in the interview. The former American player even claimed that nobody can match the level of punishment that Nadal gives to his opponents while playing on clay.
He even cited that Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer can punish their counterparts as well. However, he stated that they too can’t match Rafa’s level on clay. “The other two [Federer and Djokovic] will beat the crap out of you.
But not in anything like the same way Rafa physically punishes you on clay,” added the 2-time French Open champion. “The ball in New York, on those courts and in that heat, tends to really jump up. So Nadal’s topspin is really effective,” concluded the 54-year-old.