"I have to be mentally prepared for a tough match", said Tsitsipas, who defeated Djokovic in Toronto past year. He's won fewer than 55% of service points and below 25% of return points against the King of Clay previously, and there will need to be big improvement for Tsitsipas to compete well tonight. Tsitsipas, who is enjoying a breakthrough season, rallied in the second set with the backing of the crowd but Djokovic broke in the ninth game to go 5-4 up, before serving out the match. Djokovic takes home his third career men's singles title at the event, going 6-3 6-4 over the up and coming #NextGenATP player.
Djokovic has won a total of 74 titles since turning pro in 2003.
Osaka pulled out of the semi-finals in Stuttgart last month with an abdominal injury, but has said that she is no longer feeling discomfort during matches. This season's clay data (Djokovic's small sample size noted) also gives him a slight advantage, so it's hard to make a case for either player at prices.
But the 20-year-old kept the pressure on and was able to hold and take the set after he broke once more, measuring a pinpoint effort out of reach of the despairing Nadal. "He played unbelievable. I couldn't do much", added Tsitsipas.
"But my goal was to start off well to try to make break as soon as possible, which was the case right away, and I felt I was always ahead in the game".
Nadal has won a claycourt title in each of the last 15 seasons and remains the tour's most successful player on the surface. Tsitsipas has never won a Masters 1000 title and this is his second ever final appearance. The 37-year-old Spaniard had said before the tournament that he wasn't fit enough to keep competing at a high level.
Tsitsipas initially appeared set to frustrate Nadal in the second set, too, but a wild forehand handed his opponent a precious advantage that he did not relinquish. Tsitsipas is covering tons of ground and making ridiculous shots that everybody has to appreciate no matter your rooting interest.
"I wasn't playing my best tennis after Australia so I was looking to regain momentum this week", Djokovic said in an on-court interview. This is a quick turnaround for the young Tsitsipas. For sure, it's part of the plan at some point to get physically better, do everything better, be more professional and avoid that kind of things because, as you have seen, Djokovic and Nadal have been doing well in tournaments over and over and over again, week-by-week.