Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal achieved his 401st career win on clay Sunday, April 29.Alex Caparros/Getty Images
  • Nadal has now won 11 titles at Barcelona Open.
  • He took his sets-won streak on the red dirt to Open Era record of 46.
  • The Spaniard will start his title defense at Madrid Open from May 7.

Spanish ace Rafael Nadal said Sunday, April 29 it is difficult to win 11 titles at a tournament and that he had not even imagined achieving the feats in Monte Carlo Masters and Barcelona Open in 2018.

Days after downing Kei Nishikori in the final of the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Monte Carlo, the 31-year-old reigned supreme on the clay courts of Barcelona to achieve an "undecima".

Doubts had remained over his ability to emulate last year's performances on the red dirt this season, especially after he had been suffering with injury issues. Notably, the 16-time Grand Slam champion had pulled out of Australian Open in the quarter-final round with a hip injury, which recurred and stopped him from featuring in the Sunshine tournaments, Indian Wells and Miami Open.

However, Nadal has turned on the beast mode on his favorite surface with ease. He has not dropped a set yet on clay and has taken his sets-won streak to an Open Era record of 46.

"It's very difficult to describe how to win 11 titles at one tournament. To win 11 Monte-Carlos and 11 Barcelonas is something I couldn't imagine doing. I'm just enjoying every week and the fact I'm playing in a tournament that I enjoy so much means a lot to me," Nadal said, as quoted by ATP's official website.

By making light work of David Goffin in the semi-final, Nadal had notched up his 400th title win on clay Saturday, April 28. The Spaniard had started the title match as favorite against Stefanos Tsitsipas, who had reached his maiden ATP tour level final Sunday.

Nadal was ruthless against his 19-year-old opponent from Greece as he had raced to a 4-0 lead before rain halted play. After resumption, Tsitsipas held his serves twice but it was too late as the clay-court legend walked away with the first set. The Spaniard never let his intensity drop as he wrapped the second set 6-1 and the match in 77 minutes.

The local favorite though lauded Tsitsipas and opined the teenager has an "amazing future" in the sport. Notably, the unseeded youngster had beaten the likes of Dominic Thiem and Pablo Carreno Busta en route to the final.

"I am very happy for the victory against a very difficult opponent. Tsitsipas has an amazing future. It was a great final for me and the 11th title here means a lot. I enjoyed the whole week and had great support from the crowd," the champion said.

Nadal will have a week's time before beginning his title defense in the Masters 1000 tournament in Madrid, starting May 7.

Watch Rafael Nadal vs Stefanos Tsitsipas Barcelona Open 2018 final highlights