Barcelona Open 2021 Final: Rafael Nadal vs Stefanos Tsitsipas Preview, Head-to-Head and Prediction

Published 04/24/2021, 3:29 PM EDT
Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Monte Carlo Masters – Monte-Carlo Country Club, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France – April 16, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal in action during his quarter final match against Russia’s Andrey Rublev REUTERS/Eric Gaillard


Their first meeting on the opposite ends of a tennis court was at the final of the Barcelona Open in 2018 and exactly three years on, top-seed Rafael Nadal and World No.5 Stefanos Tsitsipas are set to battle it for the same title, on Sunday.

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Then, it was all Nadal as the current World No.3 routed Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-1 to clinch the last of his 11 titles at a venue that has since been named after him. However, between then and now, the Spaniard has taken further strides into the wrong side of his thirties, while the Greek has lifted his claycourt game significantly from 2018.

Rafael Nadal close to his best after Monte-Carlo exit, Stefanos Tsitsipas continuing winning run

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Nadal came into the tournament on the back of a rare quarter-final exit at the Monte-Carlo Masters where, too, he has 11 career titles to his name.

With the tennis world still in shock over his last-eight loss to eventual runner-up Andrey Rublev, the Spaniard nearly slipped on the soil again in his Barcelona opener. However, he rallied from a set down to down Belarussian qualifier Ilya Ivashka and spared himself the ignominy of a first-round exit on home turf.

He has since played close to his best on dirt to reach yet another final at Pista Rafa Nadal.

Veteran Japanese star Kei Nishikori did test him after a slow start in the pre-quarters but the Spaniard eventually came out on the winning side.

LONDON, ENGLAND -: Rafael Nadal of Spain and Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece embrace at the net after their singles match during Day Six of the Nitto ATP Finals at The O2 Arena on November 15, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Linnea Rheborg/Getty Images)

Tsitsipas, meanwhile, has continued with the irrepressible form that saw him lift his maiden Masters 1000 title in his third attempt at Monte-Carlo.

Bursting with belief and playing at a level that makes him more than a handful this clay season, the Greek stormed into the final with a straight-set sweep of Miami Open runners-up Jannik Sinner.

Rafael Nadal currently holds a 6-2 head-to-head lead over Stefanos Tsitsipas

Just to illustrate the kind of form Tsitsipas is in at the minute, he has yet to drop a single set from Monte-Carlo to Barcelona.

Often guilty of ceding momentum and losing the plot from potentially winning positions, there is visible intent in how he has gone about his business on clay so far.

As for the head-to-head record going into the championship clash, Nadal holds a tennis-like 6-2 lead over Tsitsipas in eight clashes.

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However, the Greek won their last face-off in the quarter-finals of this year’s Australian Open and will also have fond memories of the 2019 Madrid Masters when he conquered the ‘King of Clay’ 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.

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Hence, what’s guaranteed when the two players head out to toss is a Sunday blockbuster that’s worth every penny that the ticket cost.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

823 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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