ATP WORLD TOUR
After his eight-year winning run in Monte Carlo was ended by Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal is quickly refocusing on winning an eighth title at the Barcelona Open.
Going into another clay-court tournament that Nadal has dominated, the Spaniard said he still needs to improve following a lengthy injury layoff before he is able to beat the likes of Djokovic in a final.
“When you make it to the final in Monte Carlo you cannot think that you had a bad week,” Nadal said on Monday. “Now I’m in Barcelona and I want to enjoy it. I love playing here.”
“Against the world No. 1 you can win or lose, and this time I lost,” he said.
Nadal has reached five consecutive finals since returning in February from a knee injury — winning three and losing two. This time, he will not be the top-seeded player at Real Club de Tenis Barcelona. That honor goes to compatriot David Ferrer.
“I think I’m on the right track, but missing things after all that happened,” said Nadal, who opens against either Carlos Berlocq or Daniel Gimeno-Traver today. “They are both good players on clay.”
In first-round play on Monday, Ivan Dodig saved five of seven break points in beating Aljaz Bedene 6-7 (6/8), 6-3, 6-2.
Andrey Kuznetsov took only 46 minutes to beat Igor Sijsling 6-1, 6-3, while Paolo Lorenzi defeated Guillaume Rufin 6-4, 6-2 after winning 80 percent of points on first serve. Ernests Gulbis topped Radek Stepanek 7-6 (7/4), 6-2.
NASTASE TIRIAC TROPHY
Viktor Troicki advanced to the second round of the Nastase Tiriac Trophy by beating Marinko Matosevic of Australia 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 on Monday.
The eighth-seeded Serb broke once in each set and served eight aces, while Matosevic failed to convert any of his three breakpoint chances.
David Goffin defeated Romanian wild-card Adrian Ungur 6-3, 6-1 in 55 minutes. The Belgian could next face 2011 champion Florian Mayer.
Also in the first round, Germany’s Daniel Brands downed Tatsuma Ito of Japan 6-3, 3-6, 4-2.
In the final round of qualifying, Sergiy Stakhovsky, Matthias Bachinger, Flavio Cipolla and Jaroslav Pospisil won to advance to the main draw.