Spanish ATP number 3 Rafael Nadal defeated Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-7 (8/6) and 7-6 to win his 12th title at the Barcelona tournament.
Nadal, who won this event for the first time in 2005, had to fight hard for 3h38 minutes against a Tsitsipas who was the second seed and who had just won the Monte Carlo Masters 1000.
“It means a lot to me to play the final here and win it. I have improved my game throughout the week and this trophy means a lot to me,” declared the winner.
The Mallorcan tennis player, who even saved a match ball before taking the victory, inaugurates his title locker in 2021, reaching 87 in his career, 61 of them on clay, a record that continues to expand (second is the Argentine Guillermo Vilas with 49).
The victory not only allows Nadal to take revenge for his loss to Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals of the last Australian Open, but it will also allow the Spaniard to regain his second place in the ATP ranking from Monday, also taking advantage of the loss of Russian Daniil Medvedev , sick with coronavirus.
– Recover No. 2 of the ATP –
If he maintained that position, Nadal would avoid the world number 1, the Serbian Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros until the eventual final of the Parisian Grand Slam, which will be played from May 24 to June 13.
Nadal, king of clay for the last 15 years, had warned on Saturday that he did not feel “favorite” against a Tsitsipas who leads the classification for the Masters (points added in 2021) and the result was a heroic match to which a few hundred spectators were able to attend.
The Spaniard had ups and downs, losing his serve both in the first and in the second set, but in the first set he had time to come back and take the partial 6-4 after fighting as usual, before losing the second in the tie break.
Tsitsipas, who lost the final in Barcelona against Nadal in 2018, when the Greek was not even part of the Top 100, could not finish the comeback in the third set against a Nadal who fought for every ball despite being already 34 years old .
The young Hellenic tennis player, who had not lost any of his 17 matches played on clay this season, had Nadal on the ropes, with a match ball and serving 5-4 in favor in the third set.
But Nadal survived, won the service to Tsitsipas and no longer missed the opportunity to add a new title, further enlarging his legend on clay.
ebe-mcd / gh