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Nadal outlasts Tsitsipas to win Barcelona Open for 12th time

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Knowing he’s nonetheless removed from his finest, Rafael Nadal simply saved grinding it out.

He discovered a method Sunday to overcome misplaced alternatives within the Barcelona Open last and escape defeat whereas dealing with a red-hot opponent. Nadal received his first title of the 12 months, squandering a few match factors after which saving one on his method to beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-7 (6), 7-5.

Nadal secured his document 12th title on the clay-court match by changing on his third match level to cap a satisfying victory. It had been a lackluster begin to the season for the third-ranked Nadal after he didn’t play a lot final 12 months amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s the work of every day,” Nadal stated. “It’s about accepting the challenge, it’s about being humble to accept that sometimes you are not playing that well. And you need to fight for it and you need to try to find a solution every day and that’s what I did.”

The match lasted 3 hours, 38 minutes, making it the longest best-of-three set ATP last since stats began being tracked in 1991. It was additionally the longest best-of-three ATP match to this point this 12 months.

It was Nadal‘s seventh title within the final 10 editions of the Barcelona Open, and 12th in 16 editions. The match was not performed final 12 months due to the pandemic.

Nadal known as it “probably the toughest final” he had to play in Barcelona.

“I never played a final like this in this tournament,” he stated. “It means a lot to me. It was an important victory.”

Nadal additionally wanted three units to advance in his first two matches in Barcelona. He was coming off a loss to Andrey Rublev within the quarterfinals of the Monte Carlo Masters final week, a match that Tsitsipas received in a last in opposition to Rublev.

Tsitsipas, who had not lost a set on his way to the final in Barcelona, had beaten Nadal in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.

Nadal was behind from the start but won four straight games to take the first set. The top-seeded Spaniard got off to another slow start in the second set and needed another late break. He wasted two match points at 5-4, then saved three consecutive break points in the following game.

Tsitsipas converted on his third set point of the tiebreaker to force a third set. The Greek then himself squandered a match point when 5-4 ahead. Nadal survived, winning three straight games for the title.

Tsitsipas, the second-seeded player in Barcelona, was seeking his 27th win this season to surpass Rublev as the top winner on the men’s circuit.

The 34-year-old Nadal has won all 12 finals he reached in Barcelona. He dominated the tournament in his home country from 2005-09, 2011-13 and 2016-18. He lost in the 2019 semifinals to eventual champion Dominic Thiem.

___

More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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