World No. 2 Rafael Nadal captured the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell trophy for the seventh time on Sunday as he defeated fellow Spaniard David Ferrer 7-6(1), 7-5 in the final. He was contesting his 69th tour-level final and won his 48th title.
It is the fourth time that Nadal has beaten Ferrer in the final of this ATP World Tour 500 clay-court tennis tournament. He has won his past 34 matches at the event and lifted the trophies from 2005-2009 and 2011-2012.
“It’s almost unimaginable to win here seven times,” said Nadal. “It’s a special tournament for me, at home in my club. To win at home in front of the people you know is always more special. I played at a very high level to win in Monte-Carlo and now Barcelona without losing a set, but I’ve been playing at a high level from the beginning of the year starting in Australia.
“The emotions are always high, but probably each year they get a bit higher as you are one year older and you don’t know how many chances you are going to have left.”
Nadal was made to work very hard for his 14th win in 18 meetings with Ferrer. The top seed rallied from an early break down in the first set and was forced to save five set points in the 12th game. He then stepped up to dominate the tie-break and clinch the first set after 93 minutes.
The Mallorcan looked to have a decisive lead when he broke for 3-1 in the second set. But the resilient Ferrer hit back to win four of the next five games to earn a chance to serve for the set. He was unable to convert, though, and Nadal broke serve to love in the 12th game to prevail in two hours and 40 minutes.
Victory marked Nadal’s second ATP World Tour title in as many weeks. Last week he ended a 10-month title drought by winning his eighth successive Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters trophy (d. Djokovic). He is the first player in the Open Era to win two ATP World Tour tournaments seven times.
“It was a very equal match,” reflected Nadal. “He didn’t let me play my best level in the first set. I feel sorry for David and hope he can win here one day because he deserves it. Of course I am very happy to win two titles in a row and to start the clay court season like this.”
The 25-year-old Nadal is on a 21-match winning streak on clay since losing to Novak Djokovic in the final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia last May. He bounced back from that defeat to win his 10th Grand Slam championship at Roland Garros (d. Federer).
World No. 6 Ferrer was bidding to win his fourth ATP World Tour title of the season, following victory in Auckland (d. Rochus) and two wins on clay in Buenos Aires (d. Almagro) and Acapulco (d. Verdasco). The 30 year old had saved three match points to edge Feliciano Lopez in the quarter-finals and overcame Milos Raonic in two tie-breaks in the semi-finals.
It is the 12th time in 13 attempts that Ferrer has lost to a Top 10 player in an ATP World Tour final; he dropped to a 14-15 record in title matches.
“I had chances in both sets; he played better in the important moments,” conceded Ferrer. “It’s always hard to lose a final, but especially today it’s hard because of the way it happened. It came down to small details, but Rafa deserved it.
“Overall I’m happy with my week. I played my best match of the week today, but to win against Rafa I had to do more. I played a bit too conservatively on the set points in the first set. It’s difficult to lose my fourth final. It was a very good tournament for me.”