Rafael Nadal won his 11th Barcelona Open championship without ever seriously being challenged, finishing the job by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-1 in the final on Sunday.
Nadal didn�t drop a set throughout the entire tournament, extending his record streak of 46 straight sets won on clay courts. The last time Nadal lost a clay court match came last year, when Dominic Thiem managed to score a win off the Spaniard in Rome.
Eleven is Lucky Number for Nadal
The win also marked only the second time a player has won the same tournament 11 times. The only other player to do it is Nadal himself, who just won his 11th title at Monte Carlo earlier in the month.
�It�s very difficult to describe how to win 11 titles at one tournament,� Nadal said after his latest victory. �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.�
The wins are even more impressive considering the fact that Nadal missed more than two months following a hip injury he suffered during the Australian Open. He has only recently returned to competition, first in a Davis Cup match where he helped Spain defeat Germany, followed by his two clay court triumphs.
Nadal�s recent dominance has helped him set a variety of records and milestones. When Nadal defeated David Goffin in the Barcelona semifinal, it marked his 400th career win on clay. Winning the tournament gave him his 77th career ATP title, putting him fourth on the all-time list behind Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer, and Ivan Lendl.
The win will allow Nadal to remain just ahead of Federer at No. 1 in the world rankings, with the two veteran superstars standing far above the rest of the field.
While losing to Nadal was disappointing, the result was still an encouraging one for Tsitsipas. The 19-year-old became the first player from Greece to reach the final of an ATP event Nicholas Kalogeropoulos did so in 1973. No Greek man has ever won a tour title.
�It was a first experience and tougher than I thought,� Tsitsipas said of playing Nadal. �I�ve watched him millions of times on TV, but it�s tougher to face him in reality.�
Tsitsipas came into the event ranked 63rd in the world, and should move up to 44th after his runner-up finish.
Can Anyone Beat Nadal on Clay?
While there was no doubt that Nadal would be the man to beat at the French Open next month, the level of dominance seen in Monte Carlo and Barcelona have made him an even more overwhelming favorite in the eyes of bettors.
At Ladbrokes, Nadal is now a 4/9 pick to win the clay court Grand Slam tournament. Federer would likely be the second choice were he to play in the French Open, but the 20-time Grand Slam winner has decided to sit out the clay court season for the second straight year.
His closest competitors are now Novak Djokovic (7/1), who has been struggling as of late, and Thiem (8/1), who has had a modicum of success against Nadal on clay courts in the past.