Nadal gets his 400th win on clay
Rafael Nadal breezed into the Barcelona Open final with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over David Goffin on Saturday to chalk up his 18th successive win on clay and 400th overall on the surface.
World No. 1 Nadal will meet Greek teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s showpiece, when he will target a record-extending 11th title in Barcelona a week after claiming the Monte Carlo Masters for the 11th time.
Nadal has won every final he has played in Barcelona.
The Mallorcan got off to a slow start in the semi-final on the Rafael Nadal Court as he surrendered his service in the opening game and 10th-ranked Goffin held to take a 2-0 lead.
Nadal immediately broke back to level and the home favourite broke again in the 10th to take the first set.
The Spaniard came into his own in the second while Goffin, who had to play three sets against Roberto Bautista Agut in Friday’s quarter-final, began to wilt.
The Belgian finally came out fighting in the sixth game, but eventually succumbed to clay-court specialist Nadal, surrendering serve for the third time in the set by firing a shot beyond the baseline.
“The first set was very difficult because I played with one of the best in the world. I played my best game of the week, but against a top level player,” Nadal said.
“It’s a good victory against a powerful rival on this surface. I maintained a high intensity throughout the game.”
Greek 19-year-old Tsitsipas stormed into his first ATP final by beating Spain’s world No. 11 Pablo Carreno Busta 7-5, 6-3.
“Tomorrow will be a difficult match against a young player as they always have something special,” added Nadal of his next opponent, who like the Spaniard has reached the final without dropping a set.
Tsitsipas had pulled off the biggest win of his career on Friday by upsetting world No. 7 Dominic Thiem and was the underdog against Carreno Busta, who is ranked 52 places above him.
The youngster got off to a flying start as he broke his opponent in the second game and marched into a 4-1 lead. The Spaniard hit back with a break to level at 5-5 but wasted a chance to break again and lost his serve to concede the set.
Tsitsipas, ranked 63rd, broke the 27-year-old for a third time to pull 4-2 ahead in the second and eventually served out the match, collapsing to the ground in elation as he won on his second match-point when Carreno Busta hit beyond the baseline.
Tsitsipas becomes the first Greek player to reach an ATP final since 1973 when Nicholas Kalogeropoulos made the final of the now defunct Des Moines Open.
He is also the youngest player to reach the Barcelona final since Nadal did so in 2005 aged 18.
“I have watched millions of his matches on clay. I know the way he is playing and, I think, the way he is going to play against me,” Tsitsipas said.
“I was preparing for this match already, 10 years (ago). I’m going to go out there, enjoy it and play my best.” – REUTERS