Nadal admits he struggled past Mayer
Rafael Nadal admits he was not at his best as he came from a set down to beat Leonardo Mayer in the Barcelona Open second round.
The 17-time Grand Slam winner, who had been beaten at the semi-final stage of last week's Monte Carlo Masters by Fabio Fognini, looked on course to suffer a second-consecutive defeat on clay when he was edged out in a first-set tie-break by Mayer.
That was the first time Nadal had dropped a set in Barcelona since 2015, but he was able to respond from the setback by winning the next two sets in comfortable fashion, as he eventually claimed a 6-7 6-4 6-2 win.
The 32-year-old admitted after the win that he was relieved to get through, as he had found it difficult to match his usual intensity levels.
"It has been a tough start, not the best feeling this afternoon," Nadal said. "I just found a way to keep going to win the match.
"He competed well against me and I was probably not competing very well. The attitude was correct and I worked to be able to continue in the tournament."
Nadal will now face fellow Spaniard David Ferrer for a place in the quarter-finals on Thursday.
It could be one of the final times the two men meet on court, as Ferrer is due to retire at the end of the year and Nadal is certainly looking forward to facing off against his friend in Catalonia.
"He is a good friend," Nadal added. "One of the best players that we have been watching the last 18 years."
Tom McGarry completed his sports journalist degree in 2011,and has since has become an integral part of the editorial and audio team. He is passionate about all things sport, particularly football, and is a lifelong supporter of his hometown club Carlisle United.