Everything went right for Rafael Nadal during the Barcelona Open final on Sunday.
Unfortunately the same couldn’t be said for what happened after the match.
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Nadal won his first title of the year, squandering a couple of match points and then saving one on his way to beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 7-5 in an epic contest on red clay.
Nadal secured a record 12th title at the tournament by converting on his third match point to cap a satisfying victory.
It had been a lacklustre start to the season for the third-ranked Nadal after he didn’t play much last year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s the work of every day,” Nadal said.
“It’s about accepting the challenge, it’s about being humble to accept that sometimes you are not playing that well.
“And you need to fight for it and you need to try to find a solution every day and that’s what I did.”
There were bizarre scenes during the post-match presentation when Nadal and Tsitsipas both failed to spray the champagne that had been awarded to them.
Both men tried in vain for several seconds to get the spray going, only for a pitiful amount to pop out.
In the end both men resorted to drinking it, with Tsitsipas pretending to take multiple swigs of the alcoholic beverage.
Nadal prevails in ‘toughest’ Barcelona final
The match lasted 3 hours 38 minutes to be the longest best-of-three ATP match so far this year.
It was Nadal’s seventh title in the last 10 editions of the event, and 12th in 16 editions.
The tournament was not played last year because of the pandemic.
Nadal called it “probably the toughest final” he had to play in Barcelona.
“I never played a final like this in this tournament,” he said.
“It means a lot to me. It was an important victory.”
Tsitsipas, who had not lost a set on his way to the final in Barcelona, had beaten Nadal in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and won Monte Carlo Masters last week.
After saving two match points in the second set at 5-4 down, the Greek Tsitsipas then himself squandered a match point when 5-4 ahead in the deciding set.
“He hates to lose more than anyone else,” the world No.5 said of Nadal.
“I was looking for a win today. I felt like I was close and I felt like there were opportunities that I had and for some reason I didn’t take.”
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