By Richard Pagliaro
Stefanos Tsitsipas is streaking and Rafael Nadal aims to be peaking when the top two seeds square off in the Barcelona Open final tomorrow.
It’s the first time in 13 years the Barcelona final features two Top 5-ranked players and both are playing to take the title and extend streaks.
Monte-Carlo champion Tsitsipas rides a career-best nine-match winning streak into the final sweeping all 17 sets he’s played in that span, while Nadal is a perfect 11-0 in Barcelona finals as he plays for a 61st career-clay court crown on his namesake court.
The second-seeded Tsitsipas knows the challenge that awaits. Tomorrow’s final is a rematch of the 2018 Barcelona final when Nadal thrashed Tsitsipas in his maiden ATP final 6-2, 6-1.
The last time they met, Tsitsipas showed the maturity in his game and competitive demeanor pulling off a rarity rallying from two sets down to topple Nadal 3-6, 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, 7-5 in a rousing Australian Open quarterfinal comeback in February.
It’s the king of clay against Monte-Carlo ruler Tsitsipas who has applied his all-court skills to post 26 wins this season, tying Andrey Rublev for the ATP lead.
“I always thought he is a fantastic player. Tomorrow for me is an opportunity for me to play against probably the best player of the moment. so let’s see,” Nadal said. “I need to be ready. I need to play at my peak. Let’s see.”
The final pits Tsitsipas’ powerful serve against Nadal’s accurate return game.
“I hope to be ready, to be competitive and fight for the match of course,” Nadal said. “Today yes personally I played my best match of the week.
“Every day was a little bit better and today was my best one. If I have been improving step by step during the whole week tomorrow I need to improve a little bit higher step. So I hope to be able to make it happen.”
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