A lot of talk has been about the form of Stefanos Tsitsipas this year and in particular the last couple of weeks on the clay with the 22 year old in fine form. There has equally been a lot of talk about Rafael Nadal following his bizarre and below-par performance in Monte-Carlo and both would battle off in the Barcelona final.
It is a home very close to home for Rafael Nadal, before this week the Spaniard has won here just eleven times and the centre court is even named after him.
These two have met around the world and back in Barcelona did feel like full circle, Tsitsipas was beaten by Rafa 6-2 6-1 in the 2018 final.
It was a wonderful start from the Greek, he broke serve and seemed very focused in the opening exchanges of the match as he took a 3-1 lead. A good lead could have turned into a great lead for him with an opportunity for 4-1 not taken.
We saw a resurgence from Rafael Nadal as he levelled the set at 3 each, Rafa definitely took control as I did feel like the backhand of Tsitsipas dropped off and from such a strong position was a set down, could he recover?
The second set mirrored the start of the first, Tsitsipas was 3-1 up and looked to gather a bit of momentum once more but was quickly brought back level once again after a slow start from Nadal. At this point it did feel like it was on the Spaniard’s racket and on two occasions it was.
4-6 4-5 15-40, Rafael Nadal had two match points. One had gone after a good serve, the second defined the word gutsy, a low volley at the net following a stinging backhand and somehow he was out of danger.
From danger to opportunity, all of a sudden the Greek had triple break point, however, not one of them could be converted and we went to a tie-break.
At 2-4 at the first change of ends it did feel like it would be a big ask but the level of tennis from Tsitsipas was the best we’d seen throughout the match. He won it 8-6 in the end.
Going three but this time no repetition of sets one or two. It was tense, a full crowd on Pista Rafael Nadal were in silence as game by game went by but without opportunities to break until Nadal was serving to stay in the match at 4-5.
A routine Rafael Nadal rally with a forehand put-away at the net went horribly wrong and a match point for Tsitsipas surfaced. A tense rally followed but an error from the Greek took us back to deuce.
The crowd rose to their feet as Nadal approached the net for a stooping volley to level the match with both now having seen match points.
The tension ramped up, a double fault and a few murmurs in the crowd following a stunning lob and drop shot combo from Nadal set him up for two break points, could he convert?
He’s a gutsy guy and that forehand followed by closing off at the net saved one and another big forehand saved the other, clutch tennis from Stefanos Tsitsipas but another break point followed…
He did it again! Forehand and closing at the net worked a treat!
As Tsitsipas fought to hold onto his serve it did become the longest ATP three set match of the year over taking that of Karatsev and Djokovic from the day before.
It didn’t look like going on for too long as a wild forehand from Tsitsipas sealed a big break and Rafael Nadal would serve for the title!
30-0 quickly went to 30-30 following a double fault, were nerves coming into play for the Spaniard? Wow! What a return from Tsitsipas and an error at the net from Nadal gave the Greek a break point, surely not?
Tsitsipas scrambled but could not seal the break but Nadal was not out of trouble just yet, big defending from Tsitsipas wasn’t enough to stop the exceptional Nadal from setting up another match point!
The forehand was long, Rafa fell to the ground on a day where he celebrates 16 consecutive years in the top 10 of men’s tennis he won his 12th title in Barcelona!