Rafael Nadal became the first man in Open Era history to win the same tournament 10 times when he triumphed at the recent Monte-Carlo Masters.
He did not waste any time matching his own record.
Seven days after lifting the Monte-Carlo trophy, Nadal won a 10th title at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell when he defeated Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-1 on Sunday afternoon. The Spaniard needed one hour and 30 minutes to pick up his best clay-court win of the season and improve to 10-0 on the surface in 2017.
Thiem, a French Open semifinalist last spring, threw everything he had at Nadal in the opening set. The ninth-ranked Austrian came up with a number of crushing forehands at crucial moments, but a netted backhand down set point at 4-5 turned the tide in Nadal’s favor once and for all.
“It was a close first set and a good quality of tennis,” the nine-time Roland Garros champion reflected. “Anything could have happened, but then I started playing at a very high level in the second set and Dominic probably started making a few more mistakes.”
Thiem ended up making way too many of those mistakes in order to seriously compete with an opponent of Nadal’s clay-court caliber. The No. 4 seed won only five points in his las four return games and was even close to hopeless on his own serve in the second set, losing more than 60 percent of his second-serve points and even more than half of his first-serve points.
“He was hitting to my backhand and I couldn’t really come out of it,” explained Thiem, who booked his spot in the final by beating world No. 1 Andy Murray in the semis. “The next time I play him I have to change something. He didn’t hit many unforced errors and give me any free points. It’s difficult for any player in the world against him. I’m not used to playing two of the greatest players in two days. It was a great experience for me. It was two really good days for me and my game. It was easier for me to dominate the points yesterday, but today it was more difficult to get offensive.”
“I’m very satisfied,” Nadal assured. “It’s been an emotional day for me…. I played my best match of the tournament this afternoon against probably the toughest opponent in the tournament, so I’m very happy.”