Rafael Nadal saved a match point in a pulsating final against Stefanos Tsitsipas to win his 12th Barcelona Open title, almost falling to defeat in the arena that bears his name. In his previous 11 finals in Catalonia, Nadal had only lost one set, to David Ferrer in 2008. The court is called “Pista Rafael Nadal” in 2017 due to his dominance. At 4-5, 30/40 in the decider, the top seed was one point away from defeat, but he rode the momentum to win three straight games and defeat the Monte-Carlo champion after three hours and 38 minutes. Since records started in 1991, the championship match was the longest best-of-three-set ATP Tour final.
The Spaniard had two match points of his own in the second set, but a combination of some uncharacteristic misses and brilliant play from his opponent helped Tsitsipas turn the match around. Nadal pulled off a 6-4, 6-7 (6), 7-5 win to cement his legacy as one of the greatest players in clay.
Tsitsipas, who recovered from two sets down to beat the Spaniard at the Australian Open, made a brilliant start. He struck winners apparently at will, breaking Nadal’s serve and pushing for a second break.
Nadal also took a moment to praise his opponent, who was seeking his first ATP 500 title. The top seed also defeated Tsitsipas in the 2018 championship match. Nadal is impressed by Tsitsipas’ development during the last three years.
“Tsitsipas is a player that plays with a lot of passion. He is young and feels the sport,” said Nadal. “He has the talent and the motivation to be better and better. So it is normal that he is improving in all aspects of his game. He is one of the candidates to win every single tournament that he is playing.”