Nadal overcomes plucky Carballes Baena to make more clay history

By Peter Hanson 25 April 2018 213
Nadal overcomes plucky Carballes Baena to make more clay history

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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Peter Hanson