Alcaraz follows Nadal as repeat Barcelona Open champion
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — In control and looking as dominant as ever, Carlos Alcaraz nodded his head from side to side to the tune of the music being played on the Rafa Nadal center court.
The 19-year-old Spaniard couldn't be more relaxed while sitting on the bench during a late changeover, watching the home crowd dance and enjoying the moment.
Alcaraz got up and continued to impress on the court, and it wasn't long before he was lifting yet another trophy.
Alcaraz became the first player since Rafael Nadal to repeat as Barcelona Open champion with a comfortable 6-3, 6-4 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday, securing his third title of the year and ninth of his impressive young career.
"Me and my team were talking before the match about staying relaxed,” Alcaraz said. “To want to play the tough moments. Staying relaxed is the most important part for me. To forget the mistakes, everything, and be myself on court. Not to think about all the people watching, but just me, the court, the racket and the final.”
It was the fifth consecutive straight-set win for the second-ranked Alcaraz at his home tournament this year. He is now 10-1 in Barcelona and has won his last 14 tour matches on Spanish soil.
“It’s incredible to feel this energy, to lift the trophy here in Barcelona in front of all my people," said Alcaraz, who used to watch the tournament in the stands as a kid. “My family and my friends are here as well. To lift the trophy here in front of all of them is a great feeling.”
Alcaraz had not successfully defended a title in his career before Sunday. Nadal was the last player to win consecutive titles in Barcelona with three straight from 2016-18. Alcaraz will also try to defend his title at the upcoming Madrid Open.
He is now 23-2 for the year. His other titles this season came at Buenos Aires and Indian Wells.
Alcaraz was playing in his fourth final in five tournaments this year, winning it with 26 winners and seven unforced errors.
He and Tsitsipas exchanged breaks early in the first set but Alcaraz eventually took control to comfortably secure his fourth consecutive win over the fifth-ranked Greek. He had also beaten Tsitsipas in the Barcelona quarterfinals last year.
“I had the opportunity to see you a few years ago for the first time, I saw you play a little bit,” Tsitsipas said of Alcaraz. “Some of us guys who were on the tour a little bit earlier than you, I think most of us were fascinated by your tennis ... we see you as an example even though we are slightly older than you. We see your achievements as something that will hopefully push us to to do better.”
The 24-year-old Tsitsipas, the Australian Open finalist earlier this year, was trying to win his first title in Barcelona after twice losing the final to Nadal in 2018 and 2021. He was looking for his first title of the year, and 10th of his career.
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