By Jennifer Knapp, in Barcelona
- Rafael Nadal  def. Leonardo Mayer 6-7 (9), 6-4, 6-2
- Nadal has never lost consecutive matches on clay (Source: ATP Tour)
BARCELONA, SPAIN – World No. 2, Rafael Nadal survived an early scare in his opening match of the tournament but rallied from a set down to beat Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer.
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Rafael Nadal, playing in his first match since losing in Monte Carlo semi-final to eventual champion Fabio Fognini, was made to work hard for his 6-7 (9) 6-4 6-2 victory over the No. 63 ranked Leonardo Mayer.
The Spaniard, who has won the Barcelona Open a record 11 times, had not lost a set in the tournament since a round of 16 game against Fognini in 2015, winning 30 sets in a row until he met Mayer. (Source: ATP Tour)
Nadal struggled to find his rhythm in the first set and his displeasure was evident in his press conference as he expressed frustration with his play which included 36 unforced errors, 16 alone in the first set. He surrendered a 5-3 lead and then failed to convert two set points in the tiebreak which Mayer closed out with an impressive crosscourt forehand winner.
“It wasn’t the best start. Not the best feelings out there this afternoon, but I found a way to keep going and to win the match.”
The 32-year-old, who has an outstanding 59-3 match record in Barcelona, will next challenge fellow Spaniard and former world No. 3 David Ferrer. Ferrer, who is playing inspired tennis and showing no signs of slowing down made quick work of the 15th seed, Lucas Pouille of France 6-3, 6-1.
On playing Ferrer, who will retire this year, Nadal said: “He’s a good friend, one of the best players that we have been watching the last 15 years. It’s going to be a special one, and he’s playing well.”
Their round of 16 match will be their fifth in Barcelona and the 32nd overall. Nadal holds a 26-5 head including four of his Barcelona trophies.
Play continues at ATP Barcelona at 11am (10 am BST)
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