When they write about the great success stories in the Principality of Monaco, or in this case they have written them already, Rafael Nadal’s name will be etched closer to the House of Grimaldi and the man whom the center court at Monte Carlo Masters is named after–Prince Ranier III. Last Sunday afternoon on baking heat, the super Spaniard captured an extraordinary 11th title in Monte Carlo without losing a set all week.
This Sunday afternoon there was no room for sentimentality for the Majorcan. Nadal is already an icon at his backyard and so befitting, the center court in Barcelona is named after him–The Pista Rafael Nadal. He recorded another stellar week where he produced another clay court masterclass to dispatch Greek’s first finalist in an ATP World Tour event in over 40 years, 19-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas. In a match that was halted multiple times by rain showers, Nadal asserted his superiority over the NextGen star losing just three games; such is the form that Nadal is in at the minute. Tsitsipas struggled to counter-punch Nadal’s forehand strokes and the heavier conditions would not help his course. Nadal was playing in only his second event after Australian Open, but he seemed relatively comfortable displaying great movement and showboating with an over the shoulder volley in the opening set.
With that victory Nadal soared to an 11th title win at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadel, including a record breaking 46 successive sets won, and in just under a month’s time Nadal will be defending his Roland Garros crown in Paris, which in fairness is only a matter of when and not if, he completes a hat trick of 11 titles by winning an 11th French Open. These numbers are all beyond imagination, and the fact that it is real proves that Nadal on a clay court is the closest thing to automatic. The Spaniard though humbly acknowledged how difficult the ride had been and how excited he was by the achievement saying, “I’m very happy for the victory against a very difficult opponent.”
“Tsitsipas has an amazing future. It was a great final for me and the 11th title here means a lot. I enjoyed the whole week and had great support from the crowd.
“It’s very difficult to describe how to win 11 titles at one tournament. 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.
According to data from ATPWorldTour.com, Nadal tied John McEnroe in fourth on 77 career titles (only Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer, and Ivan Lendl are ahead of him). The Mallorcan trails Argentine legend Guillermo Villas on match wins on clay (401 Nadal– 659 Villas) but he has won the most clay court titles of any man in tennis history (55 titles on clay) and has an overall astounding 91.9% winning ratio, which is unequivocally unmatched. Nadal’s next stop is the Mutua Madrid Open, where he is unsurprisingly the reigning champion.
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