Nadal into 12th Barcelona final, faces 'better than ever' Tsitsipas

Barcelona (AFP) –


Rafael Nadal trounced compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta to reach his 12th Barcelona final where he will face Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Greek star who stunned the great Spaniard from two sets down in this year's Australian Open.

Top seed Nadal, an 11-time champion in Barcelona, eased to a 6-3, 6-2 win over world number 13 Carreno Busta in 90 minutes.

It was Nadal's eighth win in eight meetings against his 29-year-old Davis Cup teammate and his 65th in Barcelona.

"Tomorrow will be a very tough one. Stefanos is playing probably better than ever," said Nadal, who broke serve four times and hit 13 forehand winners in the semi-final.

"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."

He added: "I'm very happy to be back in a final here at an historic event, a home event, an important one for me."

Nadal defeated Tsitsipas in the 2018 Barcelona final for the loss of just three games.

However, world number five Tsitsipas beat Nadal on clay in the Madrid semi-finals in 2019.

The 22-year-old Greek then recovered from two sets to love down to defeat Nadal in the last eight at the Australian Open in February.

Tsitsipas, winner of his first Masters 1000 event in Monte Carlo last week, booked his place in a second successive final when he beat Italian teenager Jannik Sinner 6-3, 6-3 in his semi-final on Saturday.

"It feels great to be back in the final. I will try to redeem myself from last time," said Tsitsipas.

Tsitsipas could only convert one of six break points in the first set but it was enough for him to take it in 41 minutes.

He had to save two break points at 1-2 in the second before going on to break Sinner twice to seal the match.

Tsitsipas has now won nine straight matches without dropping a single set.