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TENNIS

Rafa Nadal wins 11th Barcelona Open title

Rafael Nadal won his 11th Barcelona title on Sunday when he breezed past Greek teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-1 in the final.

Rafa Nadal wins 11th Barcelona Open title
Photo: AFP

It was world number one Nadal's 55th career clay-court title while he also extended his winning streak on the surface to 46 consecutive sets.   

The 31-year-old Spaniard won his 11th Monte Carlo Masters last weekend also without dropping a set.

Sunday's victory reinforced his status as the overwhelming favourite to lift the French Open for an 11th time in June.   

Nadal now has 77 titles overall while his career clay-court match record stands at 401 wins against just 35 defeats.   

His win on Sunday was greeted by ticker-tape and a video review of all his titles on the centre court in Barcelona which now bears his name.   

“It's really emotional to see that video. I never dreamed of having a career like this,” said the 16-time Grand Slam title winner.

“Last year, they made a video of my 10 titles here. Now they have had to make another video for 11 — it makes me feel like I am ageing.   

“Thanks to everyone for making the tournament so special and thanks to my family who have been with me even when things have not been so smooth.”   

Tsitsipas, 19 years old and ranked 63, was the first Greek man to make an ATP final since Nicholas Kalogeropoulos in Des Moines back in 1973.   

He was also the youngest Barcelona finalist since Nadal in 2005.   

“Stefanos, you had an incredible week. You have a great future and I wish you great success,” added Nadal of an opponent who will become just the second teenager in the world top 50 next week after Canada's Denis Shapovalov.   

Nadal needed just 77 minutes to claim victory on Sunday.   After racing through the opening set, he was quickly 3-0 up in the second before Tsitsipas carved out a degree of hope in the fourth game when he had two break points.

They were quickly saved by Nadal who then claimed the title on a third match point in the seventh game when the teenager dumped a one-handed backhand into the net.

TENNIS

IN PICS: Rafa Nadal weds childhood sweetheart in Mallorca

Rafael Nadal married his partner of 14 years, Xisca Perello, at a castle in Mallorca on Saturday.

IN PICS: Rafa Nadal weds childhood sweetheart in Mallorca
Photo: Fundacion Rafa Nadal

Nadal, the 19-time grand slam champion, tied the knot with 31-year-old Perello at La Fortaleza, with a reported 350 guests invited to a private ceremony.

Juan Carlos I, the king of Spain from 1975 to 2014, was believed to be among those in attendance while the Michelin-star chef, Quique Dacosta, was reportedly in charge of catering.

The newlyweds shared some official photos of the day through the Fundacion Rafa Nadal, the NGO the tennis player set up on Mallorca

Photo: Fundacion Rafa Nadal

 

Nadal, 33, met his wife through his younger sister Maribel, a childhood friend of Perello.

They started dating in 2005 when they were both teenagers after meeting several years before.


Photo: Fundacion Rafa Nadal

The couple announced their engagement in January and revealed that the tennis ace had proposed on a romantic trip to Rome last May but chose to  keep the news private.

 

Perello, has always shunned the media spotlight although she has been pictured courtside at some of Nadal’s biggest matches.


Nadal kisses Perello after winning against France's Gael Monfils in the final tennis match at the Monte-Carlo ATP Masters Series Tournament in Monaco on April 17, 2016. 

But she isn't always there. In a 2011 interview with The Daily Telegraph, Perello explained: “He needs his space when he is competing, and just the idea of me hanging around and waiting on his needs all day tires me out.

“It would asphyxiate me. And then he would have to be worrying about me… No. If I followed him everywhere, I think there's a risk we might stop getting along.”

She works in insurance and is a business graduate but also serves as project director for the Rafa Nadal Foundation, the charity which Nadal launched almost ten years ago.

In an interview with sports newspaper Marca last year, the world number 2 hinted that he wouldn't be ready to start a family until he had retired from tennis. 

'I keep my commitment with tennis and my happiness', Nadal told Marca. 'I enjoy both in tennis and outside it. I have a girlfriend too and I am not alone to take decisions.

“Having family? I don't know, things are not easy to be predict. At this age, I thought that I would have already been a former player and that I would have started a family.”

READ ALSO: Rafa Nadal donates €1million to help victims of Mallorca floods 

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