Tue, May 02, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Nadal hails ‘dream start’ after Barcelona triumph

AFP, BARCELONA, Spain

Spain’s Rafael Nadal returns to Dominic Thiem of Austria in the Barcelona Open men’s singles final at Real Club de Tenis in Spain on Sunday.

Photo: Reuters

Rafael Nadal on Sunday hailed a “dream start” to his clay-court season after romping to his 10th Barcelona Open title with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Austria’s Dominic Thiem.

The Spaniard also claimed his 10th title at the Monte Carlo Masters the previous weekend as he gears up to go for his 10th French Open title later this month.

“It is two consecutive weeks winning, in Monte Carlo and here, two special tournaments for me, it is a dream start on clay,” Nadal said. “It means a lot for me to reach No. 10 here in Barcelona, in front of the people of my club, I am very happy and emotional.”

Nadal won in Barcelona between 2005 and 2009, 2011 and 2013 and in the past two years.

The 14-time Grand Slam champion also looks like the man to beat at Roland Garros after winning on a Barcelona court named after him and where he did not drop a set all week.

“I thank the club and its members for putting my name on this court. It means a lot to me,” Nadal said.

Nadal has now won 19 straight sets, but Thiem was the toughest opponent he has faced on clay.

Thiem had shocked world No. 1 Andy Murray in the semi-finals and showed some early resistance.

The world No. 9 even had his only break point of the match in the first game, but Nadal, returning to top form at age 30, upped his intensity at the crucial moment and Thiem crumbled with three errors in the 10th game to give away the only break of the set.

“The first set was vitally important,” Nadal said. “It was hard. I was having a few more chances than him, but it was very even and that is why I celebrated with so much energy at the end.”

The second set was a procession as Thiem’s frustration at his inability to break through Nadal’s defenses saw him consistently fire long.

However, Thiem was not too disheartened after losing out to the King of Clay after what had been a productive week.

“I really enjoyed the week in Barcelona,” Thiem said. “There are worse things than to lose against the greatest player on clay ever.”

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