Nadal Holds Off Tsitsipas In Epic Barcelona Final
by Staff | April 25th, 2021, 9:26 pm

In the longest recorded ATP final, Rafael Nadal survived a valiant bid by Stefanos Tsitsipas beating the Greek 6-4, 6-7(6), 7-5 for a 12th Barcelona title.

“I think I never played a final like this in this tournament, so it means a lot to me against a player like him, he achieved in Monte-Carlo and the final here without losing a set,” Nadal said. “It is an important victory for me. I think I have been increasing my level during the whole week and this victory confirms it. That’s important for today.

“To have the trophy with me here at home means a lot, but at the same time for the future.”

The epic encounter went 3 hours, 38 minutes which is the longest 3-set ATP final since the they began recording time in 1991.

Nadal could have wrapped up it much earlier. Tsitsipas was in control early on in the match cruising with a break lead in the first 4-2 before Nadal ran off four straight games to steal the opener.

Tsitsipas again charged ahead with a break in the second, but Rafa came right back again. Nadal kept the pressure reaching two match points with Tsitsipas serving 4-5, 15-40. Tsitsipas surged back to hold and then, aided by a double fault from Rafa, took the breaker.

Serving ruled early in the third before the pressure built. Serving 4-5, Nadal faced a match point but was able to pull through. That missed chanced proved costly for Tsitsipas who was broken in the next game, then Nadal closed it out for his first title since the French Open.

“It’s about accepting the challenge,” Nadal said. “It is about being humble enough to accept that sometimes you are not playing that well and you need to fight for it and you need to try to find solutions every day. That’s what I did.”

Tsitsipas entered the match riding high on a 9-match win streak and having won 17 straight sets. He had also beaten Nadal on the clay and in Spain before. But Nadal won their 2018 final at the event.

“He’s a real competitor on the court. He hates to lose,” Tsitsipas said. “He hates to lose more than anyone else.

“I haven’t seen anyone fight like this. He makes my life really difficult on court,” he added. “I’m there to accept those terms and play based on his desire to fight. It also makes me a better player and I can see myself reaching my limits. It’s definitely something good to have for my personal development and growth.”

As a side note, Nadal’s 61st career clay title (87th overall) moves him back to the No. 2 ranking, ahead of Daniil Medvedev. As of now, he and Novak Djokovic would be on opposite sides of the French Open draw, though there is still a month of tennis to go.


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7 Comments for Nadal Holds Off Tsitsipas In Epic Barcelona Final

Giles Says:

Well done Champ! Vamos!

skeezer Says:

Great match and great representation for Tennis. 👍

lylenubbins Says:

Great final. Nadal was not in top form but he fought through for the win.

chrisford1 Says:

Nice to see long, hard fought quality matches – Novak&Aslan, Rafa and Stefanos.
Novak seems to be physically fine, but only getting 5 of 28 break points? He needs to mentally get back to 100%, and be more aggressive when a foe is scorching the ball. Now with the French Open pushed off a week (or who knows, it could be worse), Novak may wish to reconsider playing in Madrid.

As for Nadal, I believe the gap on clay is narrowing. For years only Djokovic troubled him, and only once in a while, though others had some scattered wins. Now he is being chased by 4-5 guys. But what I saw of the Tsitsipas match was Rafa looking pretty good against a guy that can play anyone, and Stefanos had a fine match He had a match point on Rafa. Just out!

lylenubbins Says:

@chris ford

In 2019 Rafa lost to Fabio (Monte Carlo), Thiem (Barcelona) and Tsitsi (Madrid) but still won RG. Last year the only clay lost was to Schwartzman (Rome).

Agree Tsitsi looking very strong. He can hit winners through the court on clay off both sides and is effective coming in as well.

chrisford1 Says:

I think Thiems rise was the first since the 2009 (Madrid Masters that year)-2018 time period where Uncle Toni said he and Rafa were only worried about Djokovic coming up against them on clay. Though along the way, David Ferrer, Fognini, and Hotsauce and two others I think had racked up clay wins against Nadal. But now I think Djokovic is 3rd after Thiem, and the gap between Rafa and all other players on clay has closed.
For legacy, I find Toni’s remarks interesting as a window to how the two saw Federer. Never a threat like Djokovic was once Rafa reached full form.
And I am happy that after the Big 3 and Andy retire, the sport will have great champions to replace them.

lylenubbins Says:

Agree the next generation is shaping up nicely, especially Medvedev, TsiTsi and Thiem!

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