Domineering Nadal eases to 11th Barcelona title

By Peter Thompson 30 April 2018 59
Domineering Nadal eases to 11th Barcelona title

Rafael Nadal blew unseeded teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas away to claim an 11th Barcelona Open title with another clay-court exhibition in his homeland on Sunday. 

The 16-time grand slam champion stretched his incredible winning streak on the red surface to 19 matches and 46 consecutive sets by thrashing surprise package Tsitsipas 6-2 6-1 in only 78 minutes.

Nadal became only the fourth player in the Open Era to win 400 contests on clay with a defeat of David Goffin on Saturday and the irrepressible Spaniard gave his 63-ranked opponent a harsh lesson in his first ATP World Tour final.

Tsitsipas had not won a match on clay before last week and his unexpected run came to a predictable halt, the majestic Nadal showing no mercy as he eased to a 77th title a week after an 11th triumph in Monte Carlo to stay top of the rankings.

The 19-year-old showed no signs of nerves as he held to love in the first game, but Nadal soon stamped his authority on the match after a brief stoppage due to rain.

Nadal had three break points in the third game when Tsitsipas was unable to return a thunderous backhand and a misdirected forehand from the youngster put him a break down at 2-1.

A typically aggressive Nadal ramped up the pressure with an onslaught of powerful groundstrokes and broke to love for a second time for a 4-1 lead when a toiling Tsitsipas drilled a forehand wide. 

Nadal had the crowd gasping after showing remarkable athleticism to put away an overhead volley with his back to the net and had another set in the bag when the Greek was off target with a backhand.

Tsitsipas was feeling the heat with the sun beating down after that earlier rainfall, the outsider ballooning a forehand high and wide to gift Nadal a break in the opening game of the second set.

Nadal was simply unstoppable, whistling a sublime backhand winner beyond Tsitsipas as he raced into a 3-0 lead and demonstrating magnificent defence qualities to hold in the next game after fending off three break points.

Tsitsipas held to make it 4-1 and avoid a bagel, but the relentless Nadal was soon celebrating yet another title after the Athens native crashed a backhand into the net.

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