Rafael Nadal forced to dig deep for win at the Barcelona Open
Rafael Nadal continues to look sluggish on clay with the Spaniard needing three sets to see off Leonardo Mayer in the second round of the Barcelona Open.
The 17-time Grand Slam winner stuttered at the Monte-Carlo Masters last week and eventually suffered a surprise semi-final defeat at the hands of Fabio Fognini.
He admitted afterwards that it was his “worst match on clay” and he is yet to find his feet on the red dirt this campaign after “too many ups and downs” in terms of injury.
However, he is nevertheless the favourite in Barcelona as he is looking for a 12th title.
He kicked off his campaign against Mayer on Wednesday, but he didn’t have it all his own way as the Argentine won the opening set before Nadal eventually ran away with a 6-7 (7-9), 6-4, 6-2 win in two hours and 50 minutes.
Knock him down and he'll get straight back up 💪@RafaelNadal recovers from a set down to defeat Mayer 6-7 6-4 6-2 in Barcelona and set up a Round 3 meeting with David Ferrer! #bcnopenbs pic.twitter.com/7fdI6gWVRZ
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) April 24, 2019
After trading breaks midway through the first set, Mayer saved a couple of set points in the tie-breaker before edging to the one-set lead.
Nadal, though, hit back hard as he broke in game one of the second set and in games five and seven of the decider.
It will be an all-Spanish affair in the third round as he will face veteran David Ferrer, who beat 15th seed Lucas Pouille from France 6-3, 6-1.
Seventh seed Daniil Medvedev also required three sets to advance as the Russian beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 and he will take on Mackenzie McDonald for a place in the quarter-final after the American secured a 6-3, 6-1 win over 11th seed Gilles Simon.
Meanwhile, Felix Auger-Aliassime earned himself a clash against fourth seed Kei Nishikori as the Canadian beat Malek Jaziri 6-3, 7-6 (9-7).
More from Tennis365:
Out with the old, in with the new as WTA revamps tournament categories, changes logo and marketing campaign
New logo, new marketing campaign, revamped tournament categories for WTA.
2021 Australian Open set for 8 February start with players allowed to train during quarantine – reports
Dates for the 2021 Australian Open all but confirmed.
Roger Federer delivers a special Christmas treat for his army of fans
Roger Federer has revealed his iconic RF logo is now back under his control.
Andy Murray: ‘I want to do everything that I did when I was No 1 to see what I can achieve’
Andy Murray determined to get back into shape.
Belinda Bencic on teaming up with Roger Federer at Tokyo Games: ‘I’m ready, it’s just up to Roger now’
Swiss dream team for 2021 Tokyo Games?
‘My first hit in over a year’ – Laura Robson on comeback trail after hip surgery
Robson last played a tournament in April 2019.
British youngster Paul Jubb dreaming big after disrupted first year as pro tennis player
Jubb made his Wimbledon debut last summer.
Organisers expect to finalise arrangements for 2021 Australian Open ‘very soon’
It is expected event will be pushed back.
Jurgen Melzer hits back at Novak Djokovic’s ATP claims, saying it is ‘utter nonsense’
Melzer ‘surprised that Djokovic is surprised’.
‘Players will skip Australian Open if they are not allowed to practise during quarantine period’
Players not ready to commit to Australian Open.