Rafael Nadal was the top favorite to lift another 2018 Barcelona Open title, and he did it in style after beating all five rivals in straight sets to lift his 11th trophy of all the finals he participated in! Nadal achieved 58 wins in 61 matches in Barcelona after defeating young Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-1 in one hour and 17 minutes, claiming his 77th ATP title to join John McEnroe in fourth place on the list of the Open Era, 17 behind Ivan Lendl in third place.
Furthermore, it was his 55th ATP crown on clay, achieving that incredible tally after winning 401 matches out of 436 matches on the slowest surface, once again proving his status as the most dominant clay player in tennis history.
Rafa did not lose a set on clay since Rome 2017 (46 sets in total), and Tsitsipas was unable to end that streak, breaking five times and squandering all three break opportunities on the return to finish on the losing side.
It was the first ATP final for Stefanos, and he couldn't bring the best game out of him, wasting all three break opportunities and suffering five to push Nadal to the top. The talented Greek played at a high level throughout the week, beating four seeds and reaching the final without dropping a single set.
Still, that wasn't enough against Rafa, who controlled the pace from the baseline and outplayed his rival in exchanges to win his second title in a row after Monte-Carlo. Nadal hit 71% of the first serve and, despite some problems on his second serve, repelled all three break points in the fourth game of the second set when he was already 6-2, 3-0 up front.
The pressure was on Tsitsipas, who gave up 56% of points on serve and faced 10 break opportunities. Prior to the start of the tournament, World No. 12 and local favorite Pablo Carreno Busta spoke about Rafael Nadal's prospects in this edition of the Madrid Masters.
Carreno Busta comments on Rafael Nadal
"Although he is not at his best level, because it has been very, very high and it is not easy to maintain or recover it, because he had not played since Australia, Rafael Nadal, especially on clay, is the best player there is right now and there has been in tennis history," Pablo Carreno Busta said.
Carreno Busta believes it is very difficult to match up to the 20-time Slam champion on clay, and he asserted that Nadal is the favorite for every claycourt event he enters. "It is very difficult to play against him," Carreno Busta added.
"You must be very clear about the weapons and (play) a very round match to be able to hurt him and hope that he is not at his best level. He's a favorite for all clay-court tournaments. He is always counted for the title."