It took just 78 minutes for clay court master and the legendary Rafael Nadal to clinch his 11th title at the Barcelona Open, defeating the surprise package Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final having lost just three games in the process. A day after earning his 400th victory on clay, Nadal put in a flawless display and did not lose his serve en route to grabbing his 77th career title and 55th on clay.
Dubbed as the king of clay, the statistics did not reflect how good Nadal was, despite only hitting nine aces and producing 14 errors as compared to Tsitsipas’ 12 winners and an astonishing amount of 23 errors. Nonetheless, the Spaniard was not broken once through the one-hour, 18-minute encounter while his consistency and fortress make him a huge favorite to go unbeaten through the entire clay-court season.
Nadal strolls to take the first set within a blink of an eye
It was a confident start to his first-ever ATP tour-level final after Tsitsipas fired winners at his own ease, grabbing the comfortable love service hold after just two minutes. However, Nadal was determined to prove that, whatever his younger counterpart could do, he could do it as well. Therefore, he followed suit and got onto the scoreboard despite facing some early struggles, making errors everywhere.
The invincible forehand of Nadal worked exceptionally well on clay, with Tsitsipas unable to deal with the topspin and was broken to love twice in succession. Nadal survived a nervy service game which saw the Greek get to deuce, but he showed some nerves of steel to consolidate the break. Nadal was strolling on serve from then onwards, ultimately claiming the opening set 6-2 with an ace after just 38 minutes of play.
Nadal seals the win, extends winning streak
With the win, Nadal won a record-breaking 46th consecutive set on clay dating all the way back to 2017 May when he suffered his last loss on the surface to Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals of the Internazionali BNL D’Italia. Booming with confidence in his play, Nadal soon jumped out to a commanding 3-0 lead having won two breaks of serve and Tsitsipas completely lost the plot, committing errors from every part of the court.
In what was the longest game of the match, Nadal’s game started leaking out unforced errors but he was able to regain his composure in time, partly with the help of Tsitsipas’ inconsistent play as well. The Spaniard fended off three spirited break points and held onto his 4-0 lead, though he finally allowed the youngster to get on board and spare himself from more embarrassment.
Serving to stay in the match at 1-5 down, Tsitsipas was unable to put up a tough fight and gradually faded away from the encounter, with his 25th unforced error of the day gifting Nadal the comfortable 6-2, 6-1 win after just 78 minutes of play.