© Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell

Stefanos Tsitsipas has won all 17 sets he has contested this year on clay.

Tsitsipas Continues Hot Streak, Returns To Barcelona Final

Greek to face Nadal in repeat of 2018 final

Three years ago, Stefanos Tsitsipas made a major breakthrough at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell by reaching his maiden ATP Tour final at the ATP 500 event. The World No. 5 returned to the championship match on Saturday with a 6-3, 6-3 triumph against Jannik Sinner.

The reigning Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters champion saved all four break points he faced to improve his unbeaten record on clay this year to 9-0 and 17-0 in sets. Tsitsipas has now won 10 of his 12 matches at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona 1899.

“It was very close. It was a close match,” said Tsitsipas. “He had a lot of break point opportunities on my serve. It could have been different, but I stayed tough and I converted those break points [I had]. That was crucial and very important.”

After taking a 2-1 lead in his ATP Head2Head series against Sinner, Tsitsipas has now matched Andrey Rublev’s tour-leading total of 26 victories this season. Tsitsipas and Rublev are eight wins clear of their nearest ATP Tour rivals, with Sinner in third position on the 2021 wins list. As a result of his run to the final, Tsitsipas is also guaranteed to remain in first place in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin on Monday.

2021 ATP Tour Wins Leaderboard

Rank Player Win-Loss Record
T1 Stefanos Tsitsipas 26-5
Andrey Rublev 26-6
3 Jannik Sinner 18-7
4 Daniil Medvedev 17-3
T5 Aslan Karatsev 16-4
Alexander Bublik 16-10

In a repeat of the 2018 final, Tsitsipas will meet 11-time champion Rafael Nadal for the trophy. The 20-time Grand Slam champion charged past Marbella champion Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-2 in 89 minutes. Nadal won the 2018 championship match 6-2, 6-1, but Tsitsipas rallied from two sets down in their most recent meeting at the Australian Open in February.

“It feels great to be back [in the final]. I will try to redeem myself from last time… [Rafa] is someone that I really respect and have always dreamed of beating,” said Tsitsipas. “The fact that I was able to do it this year pushes me to push myself... I feel like I need experiences like this to grow as a player. A final is always a very important phase in a tournament.”

In a tight opening set, both players were unable to convert early break points. Tsitsipas made the only breakthrough of the set at 4-3, when he attacked Sinner’s forehand to extract multiple errors and break serve. Sinner struck eight of his 11 unforced errors in the first set on his forehand side.

Tsitsipas targeted Sinner’s backhand corner to save two break points early in the second set, and he stuck by that tactic in the following game to move clear. The Greek, who was assisted by Sinner’s low first-serve percentage (52 per cent), pinned the Italian into his backhand corner and drove forehands into the open space to move towards victory. Tsitsipas broke his opponent for the third time in the final game to reach his third final of the season (1-1).

Sinner was also aiming to advance to his third final of 2021. The #NextGenATP Italian opened the year with a title run at the Great Ocean Road Open in Melbourne and advanced to his maiden ATP Masters 1000 final earlier this month at the Miami Open presented by Itau.