Rafa Romps To 11th Barcelona Title
Can anyone stop Rafael Nadal?
Another week, another clay-court crown for the World No. 1. Nadal stormed to a staggering 11th title at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell on Sunday, dismissing Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-1.
Not even an early rain shower could stop the scintillating Spaniard, who extended his win streak on clay to 19 straight and sets-won streak on the surface to 46 in a row. It marks the second straight week in which he has completed an 'undécima', hoisting an 11th trophy at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters before replicating the feat at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona.
"I'm very happy for the victory against a very difficult opponent," said Nadal. "Tsitsipas has an amazing future. It was a great final for me and the 11th title here means a lot. I enjoyed the whole week and had great support from the crowd.
"It's very difficult to describe how to win 11 titles at one tournament. To win 11 Monte-Carlos and 11 Barcelonas is something I couldn't imagine doing. I'm just enjoying every week and the fact I'm playing in a tournament that I enjoy so much means a lot to me.
One day after joining the '400 Wins Club' on clay, Nadal hit yet another milestone. The Manacor native pulled level with John McEnroe for fourth place on the Open Era titles list with his 77th crown. Only Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer and Ivan Lendl remain ahead of Nadal.
It was a soggy and breezy late afternoon in the Spanish metropolis, as Nadal began his quest for the title in threatening conditions. On multiple occasions, play was halted as raindrops pelted the clay on Pista Rafa Nadal. But Nadal's focus did not waver, maintaining his steely resolve to snatch an early break to love for 2-1.
Nadal used the heavier conditions to his advantage, as Tsitsipas struggled to respond to the weight of shots coming off the Spaniard's racquet. He had no reply to Nadal's forehand, which dictated rallies with masterful authority and command. The top seed's athletic prowess was on full display as well, striking a twirling over-the-shoulder volley winner to secure a 5-1 lead.
A wayward forehand from Tsitsipas would give Nadal an opening break in the second set and there was no looking back. The World No. 1 reigned in Barcelona for an 11th time as the teenager struck a backhand into the net. Nadal fired nine winners and benefitted from 23 unforced errors to prevail after 77 minutes.
Open Era Title Leaders
|Player||Open Era Titles|
|(1) Jimmy Connors||109|
|(2) Roger Federer||97
|(3) Ivan Lendl||94|
|(T-4) Rafael Nadal
|(T-4) John McEnroe||77|
Nadal improved to a perfect 11-0 in finals at the Trofeo Conde de Godó, completing his third three-peat at the ATP World Tour 500 event. He had won five times in a row from 2005-09, on three straight occasions from 2011-13 and once again from 2016-18.
Moreover, the World No. 1 extended his stay atop the ATP Rankings for a 172nd week, earning 500 points and €501,700 in prize money. A loss in Barcelona would have dropped him to No. 2, behind Roger Federer.
In the biggest match of his young career, Tsitsipas can only grow from the experience. Despite the loss, the #NextGenATP Greek solidified himself as a contender in the ATP Race To Milan with a quartet of signature wins during the week. He would stun Diego Schwartzman, past champion Dominic Thiem and home hopes Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Pablo Carreno Busta, all in straight sets, to reach his first ATP World Tour final.
The youngest finalist in Barcelona since an 18-year-old Nadal in 2005, Tsitsipas was also the first Greek man to reach an ATP World Tour title match since Nicholas Kalogeropoulos in Des Moines, Iowa in 1973. He emerges with 300 ATP Rankings points and €245,940 in prize money, soaring 19 spots to a career-high No. 44.
"I knew the chances to win were small, but my confidence was rising in every match and while I was expecting a little better today, congratulations to Rafa," Tsitsipas said. "It was a first experience and tougher than I thought. I've watched him millions of times on TV, but it's tougher to face him in reality.
"You need to be patient and do everything right, but I was in a rush and head a mess in my head. I was trying to go for the lines, which was the wrong thing. I had no options. He didn't give me any air to breathe out there. It's something to learn from for sure and I hope to do better against him in the future."
DID YOU KNOW?
Tsitsipas is the fifth player from the #NextGenATP contingent to reach an ATP World Tour final this year, joining Delray Beach winner Frances Tiafoe and finalists Andrey Rublev (Doha), Alex de Minaur (Sydney) and Alexander Zverev (Miami).