Rafael Nadal on Stefanos Tsitsipas final: ‘He will be the toughest opponent possible’

Rafael Nadal will face an in-form Stefanos Tsitipas in Sunday’s Barcelona final and says he is aware the Greek is playing ‘better than ever.’

Nadal has had an unsettled week in Barcelona, dropping sets against both of his earlier opponents Ilya Ivashka and Kei Nishikori and admitted he wasn’t happy with his service game.

However, after easing past Britain’s Cameron Norrie in the quarters, he again comfortably won his semi-final against fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, winning 6-3,6-2 and seems to have found his form just in time for the final.

His opponent, meanwhile, is on an incredible run, with nine successive wins and winning 17 consecutive sets, coming off his first Masters 1000 win in Monte-Carlo.

By beating Jannik Sinner in his semi-final, Tsitipas has matched Andrey Rublev ‘s Tour leading total of 26 victories this season and is in pole position for the Nitto ATP finals.

The final will be a repeat of the 2018 Barcelona final, in which Nadal won in straight sets.

Although the world number three is ahead in their head to head record, winning six of their eight meets, Tsitsipas won their last meeting in the Australian Open earlier this year coming back from two sets down.

“I am very happy to be back in a final here at an historic event, a home event [and] an important one for me,” said Nadal.

“I think I did things well today, better than the other days. I have been improving every single day a little bit more.”

“Tomorrow will be a very tough one. [Stefanos] is playing probably better than ever,” said Nadal.

“Not one set lost in Monte-Carlo and here, so it will be the toughest opponent possible.

“I hope to be ready. It is going to be a tough one, but I need to be ready to increase my level and let’s see.”

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