Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece returns the ball to Jannik Sinner of Italy during a semi final Godo tennis tournament in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, April 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
- Rafael Nadal is looking for his 12th career title at the Barcelona Open, Sunday at 10 am EDT
- Stefanos Tsitsipas is hoping to reverse the result of their meeting in the 2018 final, a rout for Nadal
- Nadal is the favorite; We break down the matchup and the best bets
Rafael Nadal was the overwhelming pre-tournament pick to win outright.
But in his last three matches he has gone from a +2500 favorite, to +590 , to a relatively modest -182 against an in-form Stefanos Tsitsipas
Barcelona Open Finals Odds
|Player||Spread||Moneyline||Total at DraftKings|
| Rafael Nadal (ESP)||-2.5 (+102)||-118||O 22.5 (+100)|
| Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)||+2.5 (-129)||-108||U 22.5 (+125)|
Odds as of April 24
Nadal made good on both of the previous matches. He defeated Cameron Norrie easily, and made almost equally quick work of Spaniard Pablo Carreño Busta.
The king of clay brought a 7-0 head-to-head advantage into the match with his countryman. And there were very few anxious moments in another fairly routine victory that beat both the games total and the spread, as we predicted.
Barcelona’s final will feature the top two seeds in the tournament.
Carreño Busta still hasn’t taken a set off Nadal on the clay. Ever.
Tsitsipas Continues Dominant Ways
No one doubts 19-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner is a future champion.
But at this stage of his development, he doesn’t quite have the goods or the match experience to rival the top players.
With his 6-3, 6-3 loss to Tsitsipas Saturday, Sinner has taken just one set (the very first) in five meetings against top-five ranked players.
.@janniksin: “”Defeats in big matches hurt. Of course I play and train to go as far as possible, but you can’t do anything about it and my head is already on the next tournament. Tomorrow I will already be on the court training.”
Vis @Ladal17 #JanTheFox pic.twitter.com/xOdF1kVpVF
— Jannik Sinner Updates (@JannikSinner_Up) April 24, 2021
The match against Tsitsipas, whom Sinner had beaten in Rome last fall when the Greek was ranked No. 6, showed off an opponent who has upped his game considerably.
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At an hour and 23 minutes, the victory was not physically draining. And it might have been even easier had Tsitsipas’s conversion rate on break points been better than 30 percent (3-of-10).
Tsitsipas will need to do better than that with the opportunities he may get against Nadal Sunday.
Rafael Nadal vs Stefanos Tsitsipas Head-to-Head
|34 (June 3, 1986)||Age||22 Aug. 12, 1998)|
|Manacor, Mallorca||Birthplace||Athens, Greece|
|86||Career ATP Singles Titles||6|
|No. 1 (Aug. 18, 2008)||Career High Ranking||No. 5 (Aug. 5, 2019)|
|No. 3||Current Ranking||No. 5|
|$123,898,908||Career Prize Money||$13,843,100|
|10-2||2021 Won/Loss record||26-5|
Last Memory a Rough One for Nadal
Nadal will not have forgotten what happened down in Australia just two months ago.
After winning the first two sets of their quarterfinal routinely, he found himself in an absolute marathon battle against Tsitsipas, who prevailed in five sets in the match of the tournament.
Nadal also might remember their match two years ago in Madrid, the clay-court event Nadal likes least because the altitude helps the ball fly a little too much. That one didn’t go his way, either.
The tennis computer in his brain needs to channel their first meeting, on the same court in Barcelona, three years ago.
Nadal lost just three games.
Rafael Nadal vs Stefanos Tsitsipas Match History
|2021||Australian Open (QF)||Outdoor Hard||3-6, 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4, 7-5||Tsitsipas|
|2020||ATP Finals (RR)||Indoor Hard||6-4, 4-6, 6-2||Nadal|
|2019||ATP Finals (RR)||Indoor Hard||6-7 (4) 6-4, 7-5||Nadal|
|2019||Rome Masters (SF)||Clay||6-3, 6-4||Nadal|
|2019||Madrid Masters (SF)||Clay||6-4, 2-6, 6-3||Tsitsipas|
|2019||Australian Open (SF)||Outdoor Hard||6-2, 6-4, 6-0||Nadal|
|2018||Rogers Cup (F)||Outdoor Hard||6-2, 7-6 (4)||Nadal|
|2018||Barcelona (F)||Clay||6-2, 6-1||Nadal|
Every Meeting a Big Match
These two never played when Tsitsipas was rising in the ranks, early-round fodder for the top guys.
Every meeting has come at big tournaments late in the week, or at the ATP Tour year-end finals.
This time, Tsitsipas is playing the best clay-court tennis of his life as he prepares to face the best clay-court tennis player ever.
You wouldn’t love his chances in a best-of-five on clay. Not yet, anyway. But in a best-of-three set match, given the experience he has now, he seems poised to at least take a set.
But probably not the first set; Nadal has won the opener in each of his last 14 finals on clay.
Unless he really plays poorly, you’d expect Nadal to prevail – in a long one.
Take +100 and the over at 22.5 games.
Best Bet: Nadal in three sets (+310)
While you’re betting the Barcelona Open, be sure to read our guide to Derby betting ahead of next week’s big race!
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Stephanie gets the straight dope from the tennis insiders. On court, she has represented her country internationally. A BA in journalism led to years on the MLB beat and a decade covering tennis globally. She’s written for Postmedia, the Guardian, the New York Times and also publishes OpenCourt.ca.