Top seed Rafael Nadal was pushed to the brink by qualifier Ilya Ivashka on Wednesday, but the 11-time champion rallied from set down to kick-start his Barcelona Open Bank Sabadell campaign with a win on his name court Center Court.
The 34-year-old Spaniard raised his level after dropping a tight opening set, trailing back to a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory after two hours and 20 minutes on Pista Rafa Nadal.
“He played well. He played at a very high level, which I didn’t do, especially at the start, ”Nadal said in an interview on the court. “And then I think I’ve changed a little bit the way I played. I was more aggressive later, and the fight changed a lot. I’m happy that I am [fought] difficult today to be in the third round. That’s what I needed after the loss at Monte-Carlo. ”
You may also like: Rublev ‘Feels Angry’, But Finds A Way To Win In Barcelona
Nadal arrived in Barcelona looking to shake the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters quarter-finals at the hands of Andrey Rublev, but quickly got into trouble as Ivashka made a fast start. The qualifying match, which was 108 spots lower in the FedEx ATP Rankings than World No. 3 and sought its first victory in the Top 10, was the first break to go up 2-0.
Nadal’s 38-0 record on clay against qualifying matches appeared to be in danger as 27-year-old Ivashka kept the Spaniard under pressure with his flat and powerful hit. The top seed remained within touching distance, despite counting uncharacteristically high errors (two winners to nine unforced errors in the first set). But a second break of serve sealed the set for Ivashka after 53 minutes.
The Spaniard set the tone early in the second with his first break of the match, tying his signature forehands outside to punish the Belarusian right-back. Nadal powered on to claim the second set, and won the decisive break in the third at 4-3 to seal the win.
“I’m sure I’ll get a chance to play better, and I’m going to fight for it,” said Nadal. “I have the confidence that I’m not very far [from playing well], even if the last two games [here and in Monte-Carlo] not been perfect. But here I am, and I have the right energy to strive hard. It’s a process … I’m confident I’m going to find work every day [right] the answers. ”
With the win, Nadal extended his record at Barcelona to 62-4, and booked a round 16 for the 16th time in a row. He is waiting for winner Kei Nishikori and 13th seed Cristian Garin.
Elsewhere at the Real Club de Tennis Barcelona 1899, Frenchman Corentin Moutet needed three hours and 10 minutes to draw Monte-Carlo’s 16th seed and semi-finalist Daniel Evans, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3.
Spanish qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles advanced to the third round after leading 6-0, 4-4 (def.) Against ninth seed Fabio Fognini. Fognini was acquitted of non-contact behavior after verbally abusing a line referee. Zapata Miralles pitched an all-Spain clash against sixth seed Pablo Carreno Busta, who cruised past Jordan Thompson 6-4, 6-0.
Did you know?
Rafael Nadal won 41 straight games in Barcelona between 2005-2014, sweeping titles in 2005-09 and 2011-13. (Did not play in 2010.)