BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Rafael Nadal continues to make winning on clay look all too easy.
Nadal extended his dominance on the surface with a 6-2, 6-1 win over 19-year-old Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday to win his 11th Barcelona Open title.
Nadal, who also won his 11th Monte Carlos Masters title last week, was never seriously challenged on his way to a 19th straight victory on clay.
The top-ranked Spaniard has won 46 straight sets on clay, extending his own record. He hasn’t lost on clay since facing Dominic Thiem in Rome last year.
“It’s very difficult to describe how to win 11 titles at one tournament,” Nadal said. “To win 11 Monte Carlos and 11 Barcelonas is something I couldn’t imagine doing. I’m just enjoying every week and the fact I’m playing in a tournament that I enjoy so much means a lot to me.”
It was the 77th title overall for Nadal, tying him with John McEnroe for fourth best in the Open Era. Only Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer and Ivan Lendl are ahead.
Nadal, who won his 400th match on clay in Saturday’s semifinal, needed the victory in Barcelona to secure his No. 1 ranking.
“It’s hard for anybody to imagine all the feelings and emotions I have when I play here,” Nadal said. “Hopefully I can keep coming back for many more years to come.”
After the win, Nadal dived into a pool at the venue along with some of the tournament’s ball boys and ball girls.
Nadal was out of action earlier this year because of a lingering right hip injury sustained in the Australian Open quarterfinals. He returned to help Spain defeat Germany in the Davis Cup quarterfinals and then went on to win in Monte Carlo.
“I’ve had two fantastic weeks but we were coming off difficult months because of the injuries,” Nadal said.
The 63rd-ranked Tsitsipas was trying to become the first Greek to win an ATP Tour title. He was the first Greek to make it to an ATP final since Nicholas Kalogeropoulos in 1973.
“I knew the chances to win were small but my confidence was rising in every match, and while I was expecting a little better today, congratulations to Rafa,” Tsitsipas said. “It was a first experience and tougher than I thought. I’ve watched him millions of times on TV, but it’s tougher to face him in reality.”
Tsitsipas was the youngest finalist in Barcelona since 2005 and was looking to become the first unseeded champion in the tournament since Gaston Gaudio in 2002.
Tsitsipas had 23 unforced errors in the 77-minute loss on the Rafa Nadal court, with brief rain interruptions.
The Greek is expected to move to 44th in the rankings after his performance in Barcelona.
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