Rafael Nadal, who is pursuing his 12th title at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell this week, has accomplished virtually everything a player can on clay in his career. But at 32, there are some still things Nadal has not done.
The Spaniard still has not lost consecutive matches on the surface. At all levels, Nadal has dropped just 45 clay-court matches. In the 44 matches that have come after those defeats, he has lost a combined six sets. The Spaniard won 30 sets in those matches by a margin of 6-0 or 6-1.
In 2011, Novak Djokovic defeated Nadal in the final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. And in the Spaniard’s next match, John Isner took a two-sets-to-one lead at Roland Garros before the lefty battled back to advance and eventually win the title. That was the closest Nadal ever came to losing back-to-back clay-court matches.
Nadal will look to keep it that way on Wednesday when the top seed faces Argentine Leonardo Mayer in his opening match in Barcelona. Nadal owns a 5-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head series lead against the World No. 63, winning 13 of 14 sets in their rivalry.
In other action, #NextGenATP Canadian stars Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov will both open their campaigns. Auger-Aliassime begins play on Pista Rafa Nadal against Tunisian Malek Jaziri.
Felix, the 16th seed, is making his debut at the ATP 500 event. Shapovalov, who reached the semi-finals in Madrid on clay last year, opens against Houston champion Cristian Garin.
Wild card and former World No. 3 David Ferrer, competing in Barcelona for the last time, will try to spring an upset against 15th seed Lucas Pouille. Ferrer cruised past German Mischa Zverev in 65 minutes on Tuesday.
Also in action are Monte-Carlo champion Fabio Fognini, Monte-Carlo semi-finalist Daniil Medvedev and sixth seed Karen Khachanov.
Research courtesy of Michael Hastin.