Article

Nadal overcomes plucky Carballes Baena to make more clay history

25 April 2018 17:24

Rafael Nadal overcame the plucky challenge of compatriot Roberto Carballes Baena 6-4 6-4 to progress into the second round of the Barcelona Open and grab more clay-court history.

Already boosted by the exit of Novak Djokovic earlier on Wednesday, the world number one – playing on the court named in his honour – ultimately had too much class for his unfancied opponent.

Nadal was put under pressure on a couple occasions in, but the recently crowned Monte Carlo champion extended his remarkable career-best run to 38 consecutive sets on the clay – an outright Open Era record. 

Carballes Baena started brightly and forced the first break with an overhead smash to go 2-0 in front.

Nadal's response was swift as he swooped to punish an untimely double fault by his compatriot – the first of four consecutive game victories that saw the world number one go 4-2 up.

The 10-time champion survived a break point after squandering two set points to eventually put the set to bed, before asserting his authority quickly in the second.

Carballes Baena broke back to make it 3-3, only to hand the initiative straight back, and Nadal consolidated his advantage with a routine hold.

One match point was saved with a well-executed overhead volley from Carballes Baena, but Nadal then effortlessly served out for the match to book a round-three meeting with Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

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