It was a tough loss for Stefanos Tsitsipas, who earned a championship point at 5-4 in the deciding set, but by the slimmest of margins Nadal staved off defeat and eventually triumphed 6-4, 6-7(6), 7-5 for his 12th Barcelona title. Nadal is never easy to put away but in a clay-court final, it is a near-impossible task.
One of the best matches of the season, without a doubt. Tsitsipas has been in fine form since the clay-court season began. After Djokovic and Karatsev had played the longest ATP tour match of the season, Nadal and Tsitsipas overtook them after battling it out for three hours and 38 minutes.
On the big stages, Nadal has often shown resolve under the greatest of pressure and on Sunday, the Spaniard never cracked under pressure.
After the defeat, a heartbroken Tsitsipas had a few words to say about the new World No.2.
“He’s a real competitor on the court. He hates to lose. He hates to lose more than anyone else. I haven’t seen anyone fight like this. He makes my life really difficult on court.”
The World No.5 continued “I’m there to accept those terms and play based on his desire to fight. It also makes me a better player and I can see myself reaching my limits. It’s definitely something good to have for my personal development and growth. He always gets an extra ball back. You never know for certain that the rally will be over. There is always one more ball coming back and there were a few [key] shots that I missed.”
A learning curve for Stefanos Tsitsipas
Tsitsipas concluded his press conference by saying that he leaves Barcelona with an important lesson. “That the match is never over. It’s never over until the very last point. That’s what I learned today. It’s very close, but you have to sometimes maybe do something extra.”
This game will be a tough one to swallow for the 22-year-old, but it is something to learn from. Over the last few months, there has been an improvement in his mental toughness in pressure situations. Tsitsipas was able to save two match points when down 5-4 at 15-40, something we have not seen him before.
The confidence will be sky-high for Tsitsipas after making it two consecutive finals. But these types are the type of matches Tsitsipas will need to learn from. It is still early days and it is only a matter of time before he starts lifting the big titles.
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