With his major opponents vacationing, sidelined by injury or coming back from injury, Rafael Nadal is making the claycourt season his stage and his alone.
On the heels of an 11th Monte Carlo title, Nadal on Sunday won an 11th Barcelona title, steamrolling Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-1 in the final of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.
Nadal has now won 19 straight matches on clay and 46 sets in a row.
“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.”
Nadal’s 77th title tied him with John McEnroe, trailing only Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer and Ivan Lendl.
He is now 11-0 in Barcelona finals. With the win he also retained the No. 1 ranking, which he could have lost to Roger Federer during the week.
The teen Tsitsipas to reach his first ATP final defeated Diego Schwartzman, past champion Dominic Thiem, and Spaniards Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Pablo Carreno Busta, all in straight sets. He became the first Greek man to reach an ATP title match since Nicholas Kalogeropoulos in Des Moines, Iowa in 1973.
“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 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.”
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