Despite the fact that in each previous Nadal is always in charge of lowering expectations, many always take his victory for granted. More in the first round of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, a tournament held at his club and which he has won eleven times. And still a little more if the rival, Ivashka, is the 111th in the world and comes from the previous phase. But in elite sport, and on the ATP circuit, no one can take a victory for granted. Nadal did not do it, as he never does, but neither does Ivashka. The Belarusian played without complexes, surpassed Nadal in the first set and demanded a lot from the Balearic in the third (3-6, 6-2, 6-4). But to eliminate Nadal from a tournament like Godó it takes more than that.
Ivashka surprised locals and strangers, perhaps himself too, taking the first set against Rafa Nadal 6-3. And he surprised from the beginning, because he broke his serve in the first game. An advantage that increased the confidence of a tennis player who had nothing to lose: coming from the previous phase and before a legend on clay, Ivashka played free. Very deep serves, accurate drives and winning points. A team that put the first set very uphill to a Nadal who did not play his best tennis either. He wasted a break to tie the set, and from there he was in tow. Playing too far from the line, he was unable to break his opponent’s serve. It was not a disastrous first heat, but it is clear that Nadal did not find the rhythm and consistency enough to overcome Ivashka.
The second set, which if Nadal lost would have been the final one, started very differently from the first. The manacorí took advantage with a break in the first game (an advantage that he defended in the second) and began to chain winners. Also sonorous “Let’s go”, his characteristic cry, which accompanies the important points. Ivashka continued at a good level, but Nadal already gave him much less margin. Growing as the game progressed, he again broke the service to the Belarusian to put the second set very expensive (4-1 and serve in favor). With a final blank game, he tied the game (3-6 6-2).
Ivashka started the final sleeve scaring, with a blank game and several very good blows. A surprising tennis for someone who is not among the 100 best in the world, but who showed that he can put anyone in a lot of trouble, including Rafa Nadal. With very hard blows, the Belarusian was very solid throughout the first six games (3-3). But the key moment of the match arrived and Rafa did not fail. He broke serve again at the key moment, maintained the advantage and won a match that Ivashka fought until the end. With suffering and effort, as anticipated before the meeting.
Now Nadal will be measured in the second round against the winner of Nishikori-Garín, which was played at the same time as the Manacorí game. The Japanese won the first set in the tie break.
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