Rafael Nadal 2021 clay campaign is off to a rocky start. Following a rough loss last week to Andrey Rublev in Monte Carlo, Nadal was again under pressure today in his Barcelona opener against the lightly-regarded Ilya Ivashka.
Playing on the court named after him, Nadal dropped the first set to the 111th-ranked qualifier before getting some control in a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 win. Nadal’s serve again let him down in the first set, tossing in two doubles and getting broken twice.
“He played well. He played at a very high level, and I didn’t, especially at the beginning,” Nadal said in an on-court interview. “And then I think I changed a little bit the way I played. I was more aggressive later, and the match changed a lot. I’m happy I [fought] hard today to be in the third round. That’s what I needed after the loss at Monte-Carlo.”
Nadal will now meet Kei Nishikori who put together a strong win over Cristian Garin 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-1. Nishikori is a 2-time Barcelona champion, Nadal 11 times the winner!
Monte Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas kept winning, pounding Jaume Munar 6-0, 6-2 to improved to 23-5 on the year.
“It’s great to be able to play tennis like this today, even with a little rain in the second set,” said Tsitsipas. “I think I dealt with the situation well. I was serving well and felt comfortable from the baseline. I tried to be aggressive. My shots were working and I was trying to hit winners from all parts of the court.”
Tsitsipas will now face Alex De Minaur who ousted Alexander Bublik.
Andrey Rublev also advanced beating Italian lucky Loser Federico Gaio 6-3, 6-4. He’ll now challenge Albert Ramos Vinolas.
Also, Frances Tiafoe served for the match in the second before losing to Diego Schwartzman in three. Felix Auger-Aliassime ran away from Lorenzo Musetti in a good match-up of young stars. Auger-Aliassime now will see Denis Shapovalov.
And leave it to Fabio Fognini to get defaulted. The Italian had yet another meltdown on court and this time is cost him the match. Down 6-0 and 4-all in the second against Spanish qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles, Fognini when Fognini apparently verbally abused a linesman.
Breaking news: Fabio Fognini has been defaulted for abuse of official in his second round match.
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) April 21, 2021
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