“He Can Still Figure it Out”: Stefanos Tsitsipas Wary of Rafael Nadal Threat in Barcelona Despite his Recent Success

Published 04/22/2021, 6:30 AM EDT
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)


Greek tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas has said that Rafael Nadal may have aged, but he is still the man to beat on clay. The ‘King of Clay’ crashed out of the Monte-Carlo Masters after losing to Russian Andrey Rublev, a rarity for someone who literally made the venue his own with 11 titles.

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Rafa nearly slipped on clay again in Barcelona on Wednesday, losing the opening set in his tournament opener against Belarusian Ilya Ivashka. However, he fought back just when he was staring down the barrel and eventually came through in three sets.

Stefanos Tsitsipas says Nadal is still playing great and one has to play at one’s best to beat him

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Speaking to atptour.com, Tsitsipas, who has arrived in Barcelona fresh from his maiden Masters 1000 title in Monte-Carlo said that he doesn’t see the rivals closing the gap on Nadal anytime soon as he is still in shape and “playing great.”

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas shakes hands with Spain’s Rafael Nadal after winning his quarter final match REUTERS/Jaimi Joy

“He is still playing great… he is in shape, he can still figure it out,” the current World No. 5 said.

He added that playing Nadal is always a “challenge” as one has to play at his best and hope the Spaniard has a rare bad day in office.

“You always have to bring the best out of yourself and it’s never going to be given to you. So playing him, I think, is the most important thing in the sport,” Tsitsipas said, adding that a Nadal clash is a true test of a player’s mettle, skill, and character and an opportunity to elevate his game to another level.

“I think it (playing Nadal) offers so much in growth and opportunity,” the Greek added.

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The heroic fightback against Ivashka will have given the Spaniard a world of belief going into the next set of matches and if Tsitsipas, too, makes steady progress then the two could even cross paths somewhere deep in the tournament.

The Greek opened his Barcelona campaign with a dominating 6-0, 6-2 win over Jaume Munar of Spain. He will be playing fleet-footed Aussie Alex De Minaur for a place in the quarter-finals on Thursday.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

868 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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