Tue, May 01, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Rafael Nadal cruises to 11th Barcelona Open title

AP, BARCELONA, Spain

Spanish world No. 1 Rafael Nadal returns to world No. 63 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in the Barcelona Open men’s singles final at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona in Spain on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

Rafael Nadal continues to make winning on clay look all too easy.

Nadal on Sunday extended his dominance on the surface with a 6-2, 6-1 win over 19-year-old Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas to win his 11th Barcelona Open title.

Nadal, who also won his 11th Monte Carlo Masters title last week, was never seriously challenged on his way to a 19th straight victory on clay.

The Spanish world No. 1 has won 46 straight sets on clay, extending his own record.

Nadal has not lost on clay since he was defeated by Dominic Thiem in Rome last year.

“It’s very difficult to describe how to win 11 titles at one tournament,” Nadal said. “To win 11 Monte Carlos and 11 Barcelonas is something I couldn’t imagine doing. I’m just enjoying every week and the fact I’m playing in a tournament that I enjoy so much means a lot to me.”

It was the 77th title of Nadal’s career, tying him with John McEnroe for fourth best in the Open era.

Only Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer and Ivan Lendl are ahead.

Nadal, who won his 400th match on clay in Saturday’s semi-final, needed the victory in Barcelona to secure his world No. 1 ranking.

“It’s hard for anybody to imagine all the feelings and emotions I have when I play here,” Nadal said. “Hopefully, I can keep coming back for many more years to come.”

After the win, Nadal dived into a pool at the venue along with some of the tournament’s ball boys and ball girls.

Nadal was out of action earlier this year because of a lingering hip injury sustained in the Australian Open quarter-finals.

He returned to help Spain defeat Germany in the Davis Cup quarter-finals and then went on to win in Monte Carlo.

“I’ve had two fantastic weeks, but we were coming off difficult months because of the injuries,” Nadal said.

World No. 63 Tsitsipas was trying to become the first Greek to win an ATP Tour title.

He was the first Greek to make it to an ATP final since Nicholas Kalogeropoulos in 1973.

“I knew the chances to win were small, but my confidence was rising in every match, and while I was expecting a little better today, congratulations to Rafa,” Tsitsipas said. “It was a first experience and tougher than I thought. I’ve watched him millions of times on TV, but it’s tougher to face him in reality.”

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