Nadal Sets Third-Round Clash With Ferrer At Barcelona Open

Rafael Nadal

BARCELONA, April 26, 2019 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)

It was a jam-packed Wednesday at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell featuring the last handful of second-round matches. From defending champion Rafael Nadal finally making his long-awaited debut in the 2019 edition of the event to Christian Garin making two-for-two for Chileans in the main draw, intensity of action did not waver at all.

Even when Nadal went on the back foot for a short while after losing the opening set of his match against Leonardo Mayer, the 11-time champion proved why he was so good as he claimed early service breaks in the next two sets to clinch a 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-2 win over the Argentine.

Speaking to English media after the match, Nadal said that he had not carried forward the Monte Carlo loss to Fabio Fognini here, in Barcelona. “My mind is always the same. Compete well. Try to do the things I need to do to be a little better.” He, however, added, “Today, without playing well I found (I could it) and I achieved the goal.”

Nadal’s win was in complete contrast to his friend and compatriot David Ferrer’s victory over Lucas Pouille in their round-of-32 clash. The Spaniard continued his unfettered-by-pressure performance as he beat the Frenchman 6-3, 6-1 after wrapping up a similarly one-sided win over Mischa Zverev in the first round on Tuesday.

Interestingly, while this will be Nadal and Ferrer’s sixth meeting against each other in Barcelona, it would be their first match in almost seven years. This will also be the first time that the two will be playing each other before the semi-final of the event. In their last meeting, in the final of the 2012 event, Nadal defeated Ferrer to win the title. The 31-year-old Mallorcan has won each of their five past match-ups here, which makes their latest meeting poignant since it is Ferrer’s final appearance in Barcelona.

Fabio Fognini withdraws

Fabio Fognini

Fabio Fognini

Speaking of appearances, Fognini decided against playing in Barcelona on account of a hamstring injury that had popped up during his final against Dusan Lajovic in Monte Carlo this past Sunday. In his press conference, Fognini said, “At the moment, I am sad because this is my second home because I was living here and was practicing here (for) eight-10 years and then, I have a home here. So this is quite bad for me because I always enjoy playing here.”

The Italian No. 1 also said there had been some fluid retention in his inflamed hamstring and that he hoped to recover well in time for Madrid and Rome. “It’s tough to say no because I am in a really good shape, especially here,” he said pointing to his head. “And sometime (I) was not. I am sad, because it is Barcelona.”

Chileans, the Happy Campers

Chileans are having some good run in the event, so far. While Nicolas Massu has successfully teamed up with Dominic Thiem, the charges under him in the Chilean Davis Cup team – Christian Garin and Nicolas Jarry – have found their rhythm of triumph as well. On Tuesday, Jarry ousted second seed Alexander Zverev and on Wednesday, it was Garin’s turn as he upset ninth seed and fellow youngster Denis Shapovalov in straight sets 7-5, 6-2 in the last singles match of the day.

The former junior French Open champion Garin will next play lucky loser Roberto Carballés Baena in the third round on Thursday with a quarter-final meeting looming against either another #NextGenATP star Felix Auger-Aliassime, or former Barcelona champion Kei Nishikori.