Rafael Nadal’s bulldozing form saw the Spaniard skip past world No. 10 David Goffin on Saturday to reach an 11th Barcelona final and post a 400th career match win on clay.
The Mallorcan is just the fourth man in the Open Era to enter the 400 club on the surface and is the first to win at least 400 matches on both clay and hard courts.
After going down an early break to Goffin in Saturday’s semi-final, Nadal sped to a 6-4, 6-0 success over the Belgian to take his streak to 44 consecutive sets won on clay. He faces 19-year-old Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s final.
The 31-year-old Nadal has also claimed his last 18 matches on the red dirt, with his last defeat coming to Dominic Thiem in the Rome quarter-finals last May.
Here’s an inside look at how Nadal reached 400 clay wins…
Of the 400 victories on the surface, 85 of them came against top-10 opponents. Nadal is 4-0 against top-10 players on clay in 2018, and 85-16 lifetime. Against top-five rivals, he is 48-12 on clay.
Nadal’s 400 triumphs include a record 54 titles won on the terre battue. He has claimed an unprecedented 10 Roland Garros crowns, 11 Monte Carlo trophies and 10 Barcelona titles.
He is into his 63rd career final on clay and is 54-8 win-loss in those finals.
58 of Nadal’s 400 clay wins included at least one bagel set claimed by the Spaniard.
Of Nadal’s 400 clay wins, 328 of them were secured in straight sets. The 31-year-old hasn’t dropped a set on clay since his defeat to Thiem in Rome 2017.
Nadal’s winning percentage on clay is a stunning 91.9 per cent (400-35 win-loss). In 2018, he is 11-0 on the surface and is now 57-3 lifetime in Barcelona.
Nadal has amassed multiple different streaks on clay over the years. Between 2005 and 2007, he won 81 clay matches in a row, which remains the longest winning streak on a single surface in the Open Era in men’s singles.
He also has the longest streak for most consecutive sets won on clay in the Open Era. Nadal has registered five streaks of 30 or more sets won in a row on the red dirt. Here are the leaders in that category:
44 Rafael Nadal 2017-18
35 Guillermo Coria 2003-04
34 Ilie Nastase 1973
32 Rafael Nadal 2010-11
31 Rafael Nadal 2007-08
30 Rafael Nadal 2012
30 Rafael Nadal 2006-07
* Stats via ATP match notes and Tennis Abstract
Stefanos Tsitipas‘ dream week in Barcelona continued as the 19-year-old Greek stormed into the final with a 7-5, 6-3 win over fifth-seeded home favourite Pablo Carreno-Busta on Saturday.
The former junior world No. 1 awaits the winner of the semi-final showdown between 10-time champion Rafael Nadal and world No. 10 David Goffin.
Tsitsipas is looking to become the first unseeded champion in Barcelona since Gaston Gaudio won the title in 2002.
The Next Gen star has made incredible progress in 2018, making quarter-finals in Doha and Dubai and now the final in Barcelona.
Here’s a closer look at the stats behind Tsitsipas’ breakthrough week in Catalunya.
1 – Tsitsipas is into the first ATP final of his career and is now 1-1 in ATP semi-finals.
1 – Tsitsipas owned just 1 tour-level match win on clay prior to this week.
2 – Tsitspas will rise to No. 2 in the ATP Race to Milan standings by virtue of making the Barcelona final.
4 – consecutive seeds Tsitsipas has defeated en route to the Barcelona final – No. 7 seed Diego Schwartzman, No. 10 Ramos-Vinolas, No. 3 Dominic Thiem and No. 5 Carreno-Busta.
10 – sets won and zero lost for Tsitsipas on his way to the final.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) April 28, 2018
18 – aces Tsitsipas has struck in 5 matches this week.
19 – at 19 years of age, Tsitsipas is the youngest finalist in Barcelona since Nadal won the title there in 2005 as an 18-year-old.
43 – Tsitsipas has held serve in 43 of 48 service games played in Barcelona this week.
44 – Tsitsipas’ projected ranking for reaching the final in Barcelona – a career-high.
45 – years since a Greek man had last reached an ATP tour level final. Tsitsipas is the first Greek man to do so since Nicholas Kalogeropoulos in Des Moines in 1973.
Egypt’s Mohamed Safwat is one victory away from claiming a historic Challenger title following an impressive three-set success over third-seeded Jordan Thompson in Anning on Saturday.
The 27-year-old from Mansoura is looking to become the first Egyptian to win a Challenger trophy since Tamer El Sawy’s triumph in 1996, when he lifted the Bronx crown.
Safwat had entered the Anning Challenger carrying a five-match losing streak but turned things around with a series of battling wins this week.
“I wouldn’t say I was having a tough couple of weeks. I was always playing close matches, I’ve made a lot of changes and changes take time to settle in. I took the positives from them and just kept on working and looking forward,” Safwat told Sport360 of his tight losses over the past few weeks.
His 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Australian world No. 98 Thompson on Saturday was his third three-setter of the tournament.
“I think I handled the big moments of the match pretty solid,” Safwat said of his win over Thompson. “I managed to play them well and I think that was the key. The key moments were 4-3 in the third set and the beginning of the third set, I think those were the important ones.”
Safwat’s exploits in China will see him rise from 229 to a new career-high ranking on Monday. He will stand at around 176 if he loses the final and could hit 154 if he clinches the title. His previous career-high ranking is 187.
This is Safwat’s second appearance in a Challenger final and first since September 2016, when he finished as runner-up in Kenitra.
“It’s always a good feeling (to reach a final). I’m happy for the progress I made in my performance. It’s very good to be in the final of a big Challenger,” added Safwat.
“I’ve been playing okay so far. Tomorrow it’s another challenge and I’ll see how things will go, I’ll try to find a way for tomorrow and I hope I can manage to go through.”
Standing in his way in Sunday’s final is Indian world No.260 Prajanesh Gunneswaran, who is also searching for a first Challenger trophy.
Safwat and Gunneswaran have never faced off before.
The Anning Challenger is a $150,000 tournament and should Safwat win, he would pocket $21,600 in prize money, which would be the biggest pay day of his professional career.