Tennis legend Rafael Nadal has admitted that he was a bit rusty in his Barcelona Open opening clash against Belarusian Ilya Ivashka. Nadal lost the opening set by 6-3 and stated that he was a bit worried as he was not playing at the top of his game. In fact, Nadal was knocked by Russia’s Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinal of the Monte-Carlo Masters last week, and thus he was under a bit of pressure when he lost the opening set.
Nadal feels Ilya Ivashka played better according to his ranking of 111 whereas he wasn’t at his best. However, Nadal bounced back in style as he won by 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. The 34-year old Spaniard was made to sweat hard for his win as he battled for two hours and 20 minutes.
“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.”
In fact, Nadal has an unprecedented record of 38-0 against the qualifiers but it was in danger against the 27-year old from Belarus. Ivashka kept the pressure on Nadal with his impressive ball striking.
Nadal is confident that he will be soon back to his best and he is doing the right process.
“I’m sure that I’m going to have the chance to play better, and I’m going to fight for it,” Nadal said. “I have the confidence that I’m not very far [from playing well], even if the last two matches [here and in Monte-Carlo] haven’t been perfect. But here I am, and I am with the right energy to try hard. It’s a process… I’m confident that by working every day I’m going to find [right] the solutions.”
On the other hand, Nadal will face Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the third round and feels he will need to play better as it will be a tough challenge.
“It’s going to be a very tough third round. I need to play better than today…I am going to try to make that happen.”
Meanwhile, Nadal has a great record as he has won 41 straight Barcelona matches between 2005-2014, sweeping titles in 2005-09 and 2011-13.