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Nadal Battles Past Mayer In Barcelona

Rafael Nadal missed out on three set points in the first set on Wednesday, but battled back against Leonardo Mayer to keep alive his bid for a 12th title at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.

Four days on from his shock semi-final loss to Fabio Fognini at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, Nadal committed 36 unforced errors (16 in the first set) in the windy conditions at the ATP 500 tournament, but grew in confidence on serve to complete a 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-2 second-round victory over Mayer in two hours and 50 minutes.

The 32-year-old, who has an outstanding 59-3 match record in Barcelona, will next challenge fellow Spaniard and former World No. 3 David Ferrer, who he beat in the 2008-09, 2011-12 finals. Nadal has a 25-6 record against Ferrer in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

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Top seed Nadal failed to close out the first set when serving at 5-3, and struck a forehand into the net at 5-4, with Mayer serving at 30/40. Two further set point chances for Nadal weren’t converted at 6/5 and 7/6 in the tie-break, before Mayer ripped a forehand winner at 8/7 to complete the 72-minute opener.

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Nadal bounced back immediately, breaking in the opening game of the second set, which saw him lose seven of his service points and save one break point at 4-3, 30/40. He made his move in the fifth game of the decider with consecutive passing strokes to cheers of the capacity Pista Rafa Nadal crowd, and broke for a 5-2 lead courtesy of a forehand winner down the line.

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Nadal has never lost consecutive matches on clay, on which he has compiled a 419-37 match record (.919) according to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone. Earlier in the day, Ferrer swept past No. 15 seed Lucas Pouille of France 6-3, 6-1 for a place in the third round.

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