Greek tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas had a great opportunity to make it two in two in clay this season as he faced Rafael Nadal in the finals of the Barcelona Open 2021. However, the youngster had his chances but he fizzled under the pressure of playing the ‘King of clay’ at his homeland.
Reflecting on his performance in the final, Tsitsipas rued the missed opportunity of netting a simple return when he was on match point. However, despite ending on the wrong side the youngster praised Nadal for elevating his level.
It was a tightly contested affair and Nadal also gave his all and eventually won the final 6-4, 6-7(6), 7-5. Despite the defeat in the final, it is a great result for the 22-year-old who has been very consistent on clay courts this season.
During the post-match press conference, Tsitsipas was clearly not satisfied with himself after finishing second as he was determined to win and he was even more disappointed as he had the chances. “I felt like I could have pulled off better tennis today, but I am happy that I brought him so close; I was a match point up, I think. Sh*t happens that should not have happened and that ball on the match point. I was literally two centimeters away from winning that match,” the Greek said.
On the other hand, no praise is enough for the 20-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal who has now extended his record at Barcelona Open to 12 titles. His fighting spirit is something that is always talked about as his primary asset and even his counterpart had only positive things to say about his fighting spirit.
The 22-year-old said, “Yeah, for sure, it is. I haven’t seen anyone fight like this, and he (Nadal) makes my life really difficult on the court.”
Tsitsipas admitted that playing quality opponents is good for his growth. “To accept those terms and play based on his desire to fight, it also makes me a better player,” said the Monte Carlo Masters champion. “I can see myself reaching my limits, so it’s definitely something good to have for my personal development.”
Both Nadal and Tsitsipas will now prepare themselves for the Madrid Mutua Open which is starting in a week’s time and by the performances of clay so far it looks like these two are the favourites to lift the French Open title this year.