BARCELONA (AFP) – Rafael Nadal survived an early scare at the Barcelona Open on Wednesday by coming from a set down to beat Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer and seal his place in the last 16.
Nadal, who is attempting to win the tournament for a record 12th time, was made to work hard for his 6-7 (7/9), 6-4, 6-2 victory as the world number two avoided a surprise defeat ahead of the start of the French Open next month.
Fellow Spaniard David Ferrer now awaits Nadal in the next round, with a place in the quarter-finals at stake. Nadal has won all of his last four meetings with Ferrer.
“It was a tough start, I didn’t have the feeling this afternoon. I just found a way to keep going and win,” admitted Nadal.
“He competed well and I was probably not competing that well. My attitude was solid but I had to work hard to stay in the tournament.”
Nadal, who has 25-6 winning record against Ferrer, added: “Playing David is never easy, especially since he’s such a friend. I’m expecting a tough match.”
Mayer, ranked 63rd in the world, had never beaten a top-five opponent in 15 attempts but was more than a match for a nervous-looking Nadal in the opening set.
Nadal will be gunning for title number 12 at Roland Garros too and this recovery will have given him much relief, after the 17-time major champion was a shock semi-final loser to Fabio Fognini at the Monte Carlo Masters last week.