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By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, April 29, 2018

 
Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal thrashed 19-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas, 6-2, 6-1, capturing his 11th Barcelona crown and extending his clay-court winning streak to 19 matches.

Photo credit: Barcelona Open BancSabadell Facebook

Spinning with his back to net, Rafael Nadal spiked a stirring over-the-shoulder smash punctuating a declarative sixth game with a firm decree.

Even when Stefanos Tsitsipas tested the champion high, Nadal played over the teenager's head.

Watch: Nadal Stars In Video Game

Pounding heavy topspin to pin the first-time finalist behind the baseline, Nadal stopped Tsitsipas, 6-2, 6-1, soaring to his 11th Barcelona championship and 77th career ATP crown.



A day after the 31-year-old Spaniard scored his 400th career clay-court victory, he was even more more ambitious deploying bursts of all-court brilliance.

Nadal earned his 19th consecutive clay-court victory extending his Open Era record to 46 straight sets won on his favored dirt.




The world No. 1 has not surrendered a set on red clay since bowing to Dominic Thiem in the Rome quarterfinals last May.

The 63rd-ranked Tsitsipas took the seventh-ranked Thiem apart then carved up 11th-ranked Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta en route to his first ATP final, but ran out of answers against a man determined to extend his reign in Spain. 

A steady rain postponed the start of today's final.

Play was delayed again after Tsitispas held to open.

Then the reigning champion brought the topspin thunder reeling off 12 of the final 14 games to raise his 2018 record to 16-1, including an immaculate 12-0 on dirt, as Nadal remained undefeated in Barcelona finals.

Hitting high, heavy topspin, the top seed burst through a love break for 2-1.

Streaking forward into the court on occasion, Nadal pressured Tsitsipas into awkward passing positions. Following a backhand down the line into the frontcourt, Nadal knocked off a forehand volley for triple break point then broke for a 4-1 lead on a Tsitsipas error.

Showing a dazzling burst of athleticism, Nadal soared for that spinning smash flying through the sixth game.

 

When Tsitsipas sailed a backhand beyond the baseline, Nadal took the 40-minute first set on the strength of two love breaks.

The Greek's flowing one-handed backhand has evoked comparisons to former French Open champion Guga Kuerten. Tsitsipas showed skills driving the ball down the line off both wings throughout his inspired run to the final.




On this day, the talented Tsitsipas found himself squeezed for space as Nadal played oppressive territorial tennis.

Breaking to star the second set, the man in bright orange bolted a bending forehand winner down the line backing up the break with a bold strike and love hold.



A jittery Tsitsipas tried to go bigger, but missed the mark with a forehand as Nadal battered out his third break in the Greek's last four service games for a 3-0 lead.

The reigning champ denied break points in the fourth game before Tsitsipas stopped his slide at five games flattening out a forehand for 1-4.

The world No. 63 went down swinging. Tsitsipas struck successive aces to save two championship points.




On his third championship point, Nadal curled a crosscourt forehand just inside the service line dragging his opponent into a netted backing, closing a dominant performance in 78 minutes and sparking the celebratory champagne shower.


 

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