Nadal’s magic on clay continues

Rafael Nadal built on his already imperious clay-court reputation on Sunday as he lifted the Barcelona Open by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-1 in the final.

Tsitsipas had enjoyed the best week of his career in Barcelona. At just 19-years-of-age he is the youngest player inside the top-100. In reaching the final, he became the first Greek player to do so at an ATP event since 1973.

However, facing Nadal proved to be a step too far.

Nadal was never in any danger throughout the encounter. His entire game was working and his performance was a warning sign to his rivals that if he remains fit he will still challenge for grand slams.

In lifting the trophy, Nadal held onto the world number one ranking, collected a record-extending 11th title in Barcelona, chalked up his 19th successive win on clay and has now won 46 consecutive sets on the red dirt.

The triumph was greeted by ticker-tape and a video review of all his titles on the centre court in Barcelona which now bears his name.

“It’s really emotional to see that video,” he smiled.

“I never dreamed of having a career like this.

“Last year, they made a video of my 10 titles here. Now they have had to make another video for 11 – it makes me feel like I am ageing.”

The success also reinforced his status as the overwhelming favourite to lift the French Open for the 11th time in June.