Stefanos Tsitsipas responds to Rafael Nadal branding his Barcelona prediction ‘stupid’

Ewan West
Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas
Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas

Stefanos Tsitsipas has given his reaction after Rafael Nadal claimed the Greek’s comments about his Barcelona Open chances were “stupid.”

The world No 7 declared he does not mind being wrong after Nadal’s second round exit at the tournament, while saying the great Spaniard “always comes back” from injury setbacks.

Nadal fell to a 5-7, 1-6 loss to world No 11 Alex de Minaur at the Barcelona Open on Wednesday, after he had beaten Flavio Cobolli 6-2, 6-3 in the opening round.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion was playing his first event since January, having been unable to compete due to injury issues. The former world No 1, who will turn 38 in June, had not played a clay-court tournament since winning the 2022 French Open.

READ MORE: ‘It hurts’ – Rafael Nadal shares emotional message after his Barcelona Open defeat

Prior to Nadal’s comeback in Barcelona, Tsitsipas expressed his optimism by declaring he would not be surprised to see the tennis legend reach the final of the event.

“I would say that Rafa, regardless of whether he hasn’t played at all or if that’s his first tournament, we all know what Rafa is capable of and how quickly he can adjust to one of his favourite surfaces, which is a clay court,” said the 25-year-old.

“I would not be surprised if we saw Rafa be in the finals of Barcelona, because that is something that he has done over and over again for years and years and years.

“What he does have is this competitiveness and this fierce tennis when he gets into the momentum that sometimes feels like on the outside perspective like unstoppable.

“On court, things feel different, because you get the feeling of his ball. When you’re watching, you just get a visual sensation, but I have all six sensations enabled and activated when I have to face him. I think he’s the ultimate challenge on clay.”

Nadal, however, disagreed with Tsitsipas’ assessment, while recognising the history he has at the tournament led the Greek to make this statement.

“At the moment, it seems stupid to me, realistically. He knows that’s not the case, but I understand that out of respect for what I’ve done at this tournament why he is saying that,” proclaimed the Mallorcan in a press conference.

“As of today, everybody knows that I’m not the favourite to try to win a tournament. There is a history behind that I guess that weighs, but today I’m not favourite.”

Following Nadal’s defeat to de Minaur, Tsitsipas explained he had no issue that his prediction had been proven wrong, while pointing to the Spaniard’s record of bouncing back from injuries.

“I don’t mind being wrong, I’m not here to bet or make predictions. Rafa has had some injuries in the past but he always comes back,” the two-time Grand Slam finalist told reporters after his second round win on Wednesday.

“Especially since it was in Barcelona, his favourite tournament, at home. I saw a little bit of the match, I would say that de Minaur and three or four other players will fight for the title here.”

Tsitsipas, who claimed his third Monte Carlo Masters title last week, is arguably the favourite to win the Barcelona Open, where he is a three-time runner-up.

The 11-time ATP titlist defeated Sebastian Ofner in his opening match at the ATP 500 event and will face Roberto Carballes Baena in the last 16 on Thursday.

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