‘King of clay’ Rafael Nadal claims his 10th Barcelona Open victory
Spanish great underlines his status as French Open favourite with romp past Austrian Thiem
Rafael Nadal hailed a “dream start” to his clay-court season after romping to his 10th Barcelona Open on Sunday with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Austria’s Dominic Thiem.
The Spaniard also claimed his 10th title at the Monte Carlo Masters last week as he gears up for to go for his 10th French Open next month.
“It is two consecutive weeks winning, in Monte Carlo and here, two special tournaments for me, it is a dream start on clay,” said Nadal.
“It means a lot for me to reach number 10 here in Barcelona, in front of the people of my club, I am very happy and emotional.”
Nadal won in Barcelona between 2005-2009, 2011-13 and now in the last two years.
The 14-time grand slam champion also looks like the man to beat at Roland Garros after winning on a Barcelona court named after him and where he didn’t drop a set all week.
“I thank the club and its members for putting my name on this court. It means a lot to me,” said Nadal.
Nadal has now won 19 straight sets, but Thiem was the toughest opponent he has faced on clay so far this year.
Thiem had shocked world number one Andy Murray in Saturday’s semi-finals and showed some early resistance.
The world number nine even had his only break point of the match in the first game.
But Nadal, returning to top form at age 30, upped his intensity at the crucial moment and Thiem crumbled with three errors in the 10th game to give away the only break of the set.
“The first set was vitally important,” added Nadal. “It was hard. I was having a few more chances than him but it was very even and that is why I celebrated with so much energy at the end.”
The second set was a procession as Thiem’s frustration at his inability to break through Nadal’s defences saw him consistently fire long.
Thiem held off three break points in his opening service game, but was powerless to stop Nadal thereafter as he won the last five games to seal victory in just over 90 minutes on court.
However, Thiem wasn’t too disheartened after losing out to the king of clay after what had been a productive week.
“I really enjoyed the week in Barcelona,” he said.
“There are worse things than to lose against the greatest player on clay ever.”