TENNIS – Nadal was once again pushed to the brink by Greek Stefano Tsitsipas. He eventually clinched his 12th Barcelona Open title, saving a match point on the way.
Despite trailing 4-2 in the opening set, Nadal recovered, breaking twice to take it 6-4. Tsitsipas had started strongly, before the Spaniard rallied.
In the second set, again Nadal came from a break down to level at 4-4. However, world number five Tsitsipas showed grit and determination saving two match points before levelling the match in a tight tie-break (6-8).
The third set was just as tight with the serve dominating. However, Nadal wobbled when the score was 4-5 and it was the Spaniard who this time had to save a match point, before a final surge. Nadal took the match to win 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 7-5.
Nadal, now 34, claimed victory in three hours and 38 minutes, giving him his 61st clay court title. This was against an in-form opponent who only last week won his maiden Masters tournament in Monte Carlo.
Nadal had only lost a single set in all 11 previous finals at the Barcelona Open. “Winning the trophy here means a lot,” said Nadal. “I have been increasing my level and this was an important victory for me.”
Whether Nadal will have the strength and stamina to win another French Open final in May we shall have to wait and see. Nadal, however, believes these matches have put him in good stead.
As he said at the press conference following his win: “I have not been able to play a lot of competitive matches for the past couple of months. It is true that matches like today make me feel better physically and more ready for the long battles. I felt quite well on the court about my physical performance. I have been working hard at home to be ready for this stuff.”
Nadal will now turn his attention to another home tournament — the Mutua Madrid Open — which takes place from 2-9 May. The 35-time ATP Masters 1000 champion is a five-time titlist in Madrid, with his most recent triumph coming in 2017.