Barcelona Open: key matches review

Tennis Updates:

Defending champion Kei Nishikori made it to the 3rd round of the Barcelona Open with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Teymuraz Gabashvili from Russia. The Japanese top seed was making his season debut on clay but was largely untroubled by the world number 85 as he broke early in each set and faced just one break point on his own serve before sealing victory.

Nishikori will meet either Portugal’s Joao Sousa or 15th seed Santiago Giraldo in the last 16 on Thursday.

”It was a great first match,” Nishikori said. ”It was my first match of the year on clay, so I was little tight, but I played a great two sets today.”

Second seed Rafael Nadal will begin his quest for a 9th title in Barcelona in a rematch of his quarter-final defeat to Nicolas Almagro last year on Wednesday. Almagro only had to play 3 games to book his place in round 3 as Paolo Lorenzi retired when trailing 3-0 in the first set.

Nadal’s defeat to Almagro last year ended the 14-time Grand Slam champion’s 41-match winning streak at the tournament stretching back to 2003.

“He is a great player and always a dangerous rival,” Nadal said on Monday.

“I have to play my own game and make it difficult for Nico.”

7th seed Roberto Bautista Agut and fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo also booked their places in round 3 with straight sets victories over Thomaz Belluci and Mikhail Kukushkin respectively.

British number 3 James Ward did not manage to run through qualifying as he lost to Turkey’s Marsel Ilhan in the first round of the Barcelona Open. The 28 years old Londoner, had won 2 matches in qualifying on the clay but went down 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-1 against Ilhan, ranked 22 places higher at 84th in the world.

Russian 17-year-old Andrey Rublev, the junior world number one, upset 37th-ranked Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (7-4) 6-3.

“I’m really happy to win against one of the best players on tour,” said Rublev.

“It’s amazing, I don’t even know what to say – I’m just so happy. I tried not to think and just keep showing my best every point. I had nothing to lose.”



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