Rafael Nadal beat compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta in the second semi-final of the Barcelona Open on Saturday to book a summit clash against Stefanos Tsitsipas. Nadal will now look to become a twelve-time champion at Barcelona on Sunday. Amazingly, this match was Nadal’s 65th win at the tournament – from 69 matches overall. He will doubtless want to make it 66 from 70. Based on the form he showed on Saturday, it’s hard to argue against him doing just that. Incidentally, the last time Tsitsipas and Nadal faced off in this event’s final clash in 2018, it was the latter who emerged victorious.
Carreno Busta started the match well and even served at 96% in the first set. But Rafael Nadal was at his imperious best; on clay, that means few if any can trump him.
In fact, Nadal managed to break his younger countryman twice in the first set. He was at 3-0 after the first three games amd Carreno Busta looked in for a hiding.
The final is set in Barcelona! 🍿
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He would eventually break back, however, but it was too little too late as he succumbed to a 6-3 loss in the first set.
There wasn’t much difference in the second set, however. Nadal broke twice and held serve to establish a commanding 4-0 lead. At this point, a bagel seemed likely.
That didn’t come to pass as Carreno Busta held serve thereafter. But the damage was done. All Nadal needed to do was hold his own serve – which he did so in comfortable fashion.
Nadal may well be the king of clay, but in the final he will face a member of the vaunted ‘Next Gen’ in Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Tsitsipas finds himself in a rich vein of form – he’s unbeaten in clay this year and also won the Monte Carlo Masters recently.
Nadal, for his part, was knocked out in the quarterfinals of that same tournament by another promising prospect in Andrey Rublev.
How Nadal fares in what is one of his favoured ATP events will be a good indicator of where he is ahead of the 2021 French Open.