In his twelfth final of the Barcelona Open, Rafael Nadal defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-7, 7-5 in three hours and 37 minutes after saving a match point in the tenth game of the deciding set! Thus, Nadal remained undefeated in title matches at one of his favorite ATP events where the center court is named after him, lifting the 87th ATP title and the first since October last year and Roland Garros.
It was one of the most entertaining games of the season, with two opponents pushing themselves to the limit from start to finish. Nadal defended 10 of 12 break opportunities and produced four breaks to go over the top and score one of his most exciting victories in recent years.
The first set lasted almost an hour, and Nadal overcame five of the six break opportunities and a 4-2 deficit to claim it 6-4 and gain a huge advantage. Tsitsipas had the upper hand in the early stages, doing everything right on serve and return and keeping Nadal out of the comfort zone.
Still, the Greek lost that rhythm after a good serve turn in the sixth game and allowed the Spaniard to take over and produce a comeback. The 11-time champion stayed in the opening game with a service winner before adding a forehand error in game three to suffer a break.
Playing excellent tennis at the time, Stefanos held on easily in games four and six and created two break opportunities at 3-1 that could have sent him later. Nadal saved them and stayed at 30 in the seventh game to stay a break behind and gain some confidence.
The hometown favorite opened the court at 3-4 and posted a forehand cross winner to deliver his first break of the match and level the score at 4-4. Like many times that week, Rafa lost focus in the crucial moments and offered Stefanos three break opportunities in game nine that could have cost him dearly.
Nadal returned to action
In a recent interview with Filo News, World No. 13 Diego Schwartzman heaped praise on Rafael Nadal’s prowess on clay. The Argentine admitted it is “almost impossible” to match Nadal’s level of intensity on a claycourt and that players often admit defeat even before stepping onto the court against the Spaniard.
“On clay, it is almost impossible to follow the rhythm and dominance that he (Nadal) has. Rafa is the one who imposes the most respect on you when entering the court. It is like you enter defeated,” said Schwartzman.
In the interview, Diego Schwartzman also explained the differences when it comes to playing against Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. “Federer being so relaxed, sometimes he gives you a game. You enter the Nadal match, and it seems that everything from the first point to the last point, is the last in his career,” mentioned the World No. 13.