ATP Barcelona: Rafael Nadal cruises through opening match

A few days after claiming his biggest title in two years, Rafael Nadal showed few signs of a hangover in his opening round match at the Barcelona Open on Wednesday. Having just won his ninth title in Monte Carlo, the eight-time Barcelona champion started strongly with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over compatriot Marcel Granollers in their second round encounter.

Nadal overcomes slow start

It was the lower-ranked Spaniard who got off to the quicker start in the match, reaching break point in the opening game of the match on Nadal’s serve. Granollers was denied by the eight-time champion at the first three times of asking, but he was not to be denied as he converted his fourth break point opportunity to grab the early.

Marcel Granollers slides into a backhand. Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images
Marcel Granollers slides into a backhand. Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images

That would be where Granollers fight would end. He would not have another break point opportunity for the remainder of the match. Having received a rude awakening in the opening game, Nadal immediately bounced back and brought up a pair of break points on Granollers serve in the following game. The Barcelona-native saved both and then saved two more in the ensuing deuces before Nadal finally broke through to even the set at 1-1. The first two games took 18 minutes.

It would take long for Nadal to grab another break of serve. Granollers was not able to return the favour and could not reclaim the break, or even put much pressure on the Nadal serve. Both players held for the remainder of the set and the world number five took the opener 6-3.

Solid Nadal cruises to victory

The start of the second set was similar to that of the first, only with the roles reversed, as Nadal broke Granollers to start the set. Only this time, the top seed consolidated the break and led 2-0. He had a chance to break the set wide open when he raced ahead 15-40 on his opponents serve in the following game, but Granollers managed to fight back and hold to keep Nadal from taking a stranglehold on the match.

Rafael Nadal stretches for a forehand. Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images
Rafael Nadal stretches for a forehand. Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images

But Nadal was focused on serve and did not give the world number 50 any chances to break back. The top seed continued to put pressure on Granollers’ serve and as the set approached its conclusion, Nadal broke again to stretch his lead to 5-2 and gave himself a chance to serve for the match. He made no mistake as he held serve to claim his spot in the third round in an hour

By the numbers

Nadal dominated this match in practically every category. He saved three out of four break points that he faced, with all four coming in the first game of the match. After being broken to start the match, he did not allow another break point against his serve. He held 16 break points on his opponents serve, converting four of them. The Mallorcan won 75% of his first serve points, while limiting Granollers to 50%.

Nadal, who is looking to add a ninth title at a specific tournament for the second time in two weeks this week in Barcelona, will continue his campaign on Thursday against another fellow Spaniard, Albert Montanes

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