Rafael Nadal had to dig deep to secure the 12th Barcelona Open title on the court that carries his name, toppling five rivals to lift the first ATP trophy since the last year's Roland Garros in October. Nadal suffered the quarter-final loss in Monte Carlo a week before Barcelona, heading home to Spain with 447 ATP wins on clay on his tally and hoping to add at least three more and earn a massive milestone on his favorite surface.
After tough victories over Ilya Ivashka and Kei Nishikori in three sets, Nadal raised his level in the quarter-final against Cameron Norrie, becoming the third player with 450 ATP wins on clay in the Open era after Guillermo Vilas and Manuel Orantes!
Unlike the Argentine and his compatriot, who played almost 400 ATP tournaments on clay in a career, Rafa is on only 104, focusing on the European clay swing and the five most important events of this surface. Producing an unreal consistency on clay since 2005, Nadal became the most outstanding player who ever stepped on it, winning 61 titles and scoring 452 wins in under 500 matches played!
Thus, Rafa became the first player in the Open era with 450 triumphs on two different surfaces, something that no one will repeat in the upcoming decades.
Rafael Nadal has 452 clay wins. Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic have 451.
Also, Nadal made sure to achieve another incredible feat, scoring one ATP win on clay more than his greatest rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic combined!
Novak stands on 228 wins o the slowest surface after the semi-final loss at home in Belgrade, while Roger earned five triumphs less. Novak and Roger are the Roland Garros and Masters 1000 champions on clay, but they can't match Nadal's pace, winning 26 ATP titles combined on dirt and trailing 35 behind Nadal!
Rafa had to gave his 120% to earn the 452nd win on Sunday, toppling Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-7, 7-5 after three hours and 38 minutes of titanic battle that forged the most extended best-of-three final in the previous 30 years!
Nadal made a comeback in the opening set to claim four straight games before wasting two match points in the second against the rival who refused to surrender. Tsitsipas claimed it in the tie break and they stayed neck and neck in the decider until game ten when Rafa had to play against a match point, saving it and earning three straight games to move over the top and celebrate in one of the most challenging finals in a career.