Nadal's quest for ninth Barcelona title off to winning start


Rafael Nadal overcame strong winds and a first-set fall to cruise into the third round of the Barcelona Open on Wednesday.

The eight-time winner was far from his fluent best despite winning in Monte Carlo on Sunday, but his characteristic battling qualities saw him through in a 6-3 6-2 win over Marcel Granollers.

Nadal was shaky early on and lost his opening service game, but Granollers' joy was short-lived as the world number five reeled off four in a row with some crisp groundstrokes.

A slip in the fifth game could have derailed his progress but, after a quick discussion with the trainer, he carried on, and Nadal never looked back as he eased into round three.

Two-time defending champion Kei Nishikori made a solid start to his quest for three in a row with a straight-sets win over Thiemo de Bakker.

The second seed excelled on his own serve throughout the 70 minutes on court, while he was ruthless on De Bakker's serve, Nishikori converting all three break points he created in the 6-4 6-2 win.

Fellow seeds Fabio Fognini, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Viktor Troicki are also into the third round, but only Kohlschreiber had a comfortable day.

Fognini had to come from a set down to beat Mikhail Youzhny 3-6 6-0 6-1, while Troicki endured a nightmare second set before rallying to a 6-4 1-6 6-0 triumph over Marton Fucsovics.

Joao Sousa and Thomaz Belluci were not so fortunate, though, as the 14th and 15th seeds bowed out, beaten by Albert Montanes and Alexander Zverev respectively.

Wednesday also saw Malek Jaziri set up a third round meeting with Zverev after beating Renzo Olivo 6-1 4-6 6-3.