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Tennis News • Rafa Nadal Tested But Wins Barcelona Opener, Djokovic Upset By Klizan In Second Round

Rafael Nadal of Spain in action during his semi final match against Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters tournament in Roquebrune Cap Martin, France, 21 April 2018. Rafael Nadal won the tournament. EPA-EFE/SEBASTIEN NOGIER



By Ricky Dimon


Rafael Nadal got a surprisingly stern test from fellow Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena in the second round of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell on Wednesday afternoon, but Nadal still prevailed 6-4, 6-4. The 10-time champion kicked off his bid for title No. 11 with a victory that required one hour and 51 minutes of hard work.


Nadal finished with more errors (21) than winners (18) and made 14 mistakes off the forehand side by itself. The world No. 1 dropped serve once in each set but managed to capitalize on four of his seven break-point opportunities.


Next up for Nadal is another countryman in Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who got a retirement from Kei Nishikori after taking the first set 6-3.


Novak Djokovic was not as fortunate as Nadal. The 12th-ranked Serb saw his momentum from two wins last week in Monte-Carlo go by the wayside with a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 loss to Martin Klizan. Djokovic did well to recover from a slow start by dominating the second set, but his game soon took another turn for the worse and he eventually bowed out after one hour and 39 minutes.


Returning from injury issues of his own, Klizan broke three times–converting each of his three break-point chances–even though Djokovic served at 79 percent. Prior to this week, the 140th-ranked Slovak had won just a single match at an ATP tournament this year (over an opponent ranked No. 1,529 in the world).


Klizan’s reward is an all-lefty showdown against Feliciano Lopez. Those two veterans Lopez and Klizan will be facing each other for the second time in their careers and for the second time in 2018. They previously squared off on the indoor hard courts of Rotterdam, where Lopez emerged victorious 6-3, 7-6(4). Although Lopez is preparing for tournament director duties next month in Madrid, his playing days are still going strong. The 36-year-old Spaniard comes in at No. 30 in the world and he is a decent 10-8 this season following a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 defeat of Dusan Lajovic on Tuesday.


Grigor Dimitrov and Malek Jaziri will also be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers and for the second time this season on Thursday. Their only previous meeting resulted in by far the biggest win of Jaziri’s career, as the Tunisian wild card treated the Dubai crowd to a 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 upset of Dimitrov on his eventual way to a surprising semifinal appearance.


Jaziri has defeated Sandgren and Ernesto Escobedo so far this week, while Dimitrov hammered Gilles Simon 6-2, 6-1 following a first-round bye as the No. 2 seed.


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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