Date: 25 April 2021
Tournament: Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell 2021
Venue: Barcelona, Spain
Category: ATP 500
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €1,565,480
Match timing: 4 pm local time, 7.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel | UK - Amazon Prime Video
Rafael Nadal vs Stefanos Tsitsipas preview
The 'King of Clay' Rafael Nadal will take on a red-hot Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final of the 2021 Barcelona Open on Sunday.
Nadal made short work of compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta in his semifinal match on Saturday. The Mallorcan won 6-3, 6-2 to make it to the 12th Barcelona Open final of his career; Nadal is unbeaten at this stage of the event, with 11 titles to his name.
Despite having a slow start to the tournament, the 34-year-old has given ample evidence of what makes him such a feared competitor on clay. Ilya Ivashka and Kei Nishikori both took Nadal the distance, but failed to get past the finishing line.
The 20-time Major champion then upped his game to send Cameron Norrie and Pablo Carreno Busta packing in straight sets. Nadal was particularly decisive with his groundstrokes against Carreno Busta, winning almost half of the return points that he played.
The World No. 3's serve - which had let him down massively in his defeat to Andrey Rublev at Monte Carlo - has also been showing signs of improvement.
Tsitsipas, meanwhile, ousted Italian sensation Jannik Sinner in straight sets in his semifinal. The Greek won 6-3, 6-3, without getting broken a single time.
Tsitsipas' form has been a big talking point in recent weeks. The 22-year-old won the Monte Carlo Masters last week and is currently on a nine-match winning streak. More impressively, he hasn't lost a set in any of these matches, and has been broken just four times.
Rafael Nadal vs Stefanos Tsitsipas head-to-head
Rafael Nadal leads Stefanos Tsitsipas by a margin of 6-2 in the head-to-head.
Tsitsipas staged a stunning comeback against Nadal at the 2021 Australian Open to win in five sets. In addition to that, the Greek has also defeated Nadal on clay once before (Madrid 2019).
Rafael Nadal vs Stefanos Tsitsipas prediction
Rafael Nadal has looked far from his usual self in recent weeks. The Spaniard has struggled with multiple facets of his game, which came to a head against Andrey Rublev at the Monte Carlo Masters and against Ilya Ivashka here in Barcelona.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, meanwhile, is in the form of his life, with all the parts of his game being in fine working order. The Greek has no shortage of weapons in his arsenal, but will particularly rely on his serve and forehand to dictate terms on Sunday.
Nadal has shown signs of weakness on his backhand in his last few matches. Tsitsipas will likely look to mount pressure on that wing by taking the ball early and robbing the Spaniard of time.
Nadal winning on clay is no longer as much of a guarantee as it once used to be. And with Tsitsipas playing better than he ever has, it looks likely that he will prevent the 34-year-old from lifting his 12th title at Barcelona.
Prediction: Stefanos Tsitsipas to win in three sets.