Rafael Nadal kept it rolling in his opening match in Barcelona today. Seeking an 11th Barcelona title, Nadal picked up his 15th straight win on clay after dismissing countryman Roberto Carballes Baena 6-4, 6-4.
Nadal has now won a record 38 straight sets on the surface and in Barcelona, has won recorded a 54-3 mark.
Meanwhile, Nadal’s (former) rival Novak Djokovic was stunned by the 140th-ranked qualifier Martin Klizan 6-2, 1-6, 6-3. Djokovic, who was playing in his first Barcelona event since 2006, has now lost five of his last seven matches.
“I feel I haven’t lived up to your expectations, not even my own,” said Djokovic who lost for a third time in the opening round of an event in 2018.
“I have not played at my level,” he added. “In the second set I improved considerably, but I need to find more rhythm. I will continue fighting. From now on I have to be more patient and work hard to increase my level.”
Klizan broke Djokovic at 4-3 then served it out for his first win over the Serb.
Grigor Dimitrov, Pablo Carreno Busta, Dominic Thiem and Karen Khachanov were also winners.
Tomorrow, Nadal will face another countryman in Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Dimitrov duels Malek Jaziri and Pablo Andujar battles Roberto Bautista Agut.
Garcia Lopez advanced Wednesday when his opponent, Kei Nishikori, retired due to wrist pain after dropping the first set 6-3. Nishikori had been sidelined with that right injury, however has played a lot of tennis after reaching the finals in Monte Carlo on Sunday.
“My expectations grew in Monte Carlo, despite losing to Nadal,” Nishikori said. “However, I started feeling discomfort again during the first set and I did not want to take any risks.”
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