Barcelona: Defending champion Rafael Nadal laboured to victory while second-seed David Ferrer was ousted from the Barcelona Open by a Russian opponent for the second straight year, on Wednesday.
Ferrer was unable to find his rhythm in losing 4-6, 2-6 to Teymuraz Gabashvili in his opening match while Nadal struggled past fellow Spanish player Albert Ramos 7-6 (2), 6-4.
Nadal eventually overcame his 103rd-ranked opponent to reach the third round, rebounding from a surprise loss to Ferrer in the Monte Carlo Masters quarter finals.
In doubles, Somdev Dev Varman finally tasted victory after a long while after he and Croatian partner Ante Pavic won their first round match. Somdev, who has been enduring a rough patch in singles, and Pavic won 6-4, 6-4 against local wild card entrants Roberto Bautista Agut and Albert Montanes.
The win was Somdev’s first in almost two months and also first in doubles in the current season, having suffered three defeats at the Challenger level.
They next face unseeded pair of Jesse Huta Galung and Stephane Robert, who knocked out fourth seeds David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco, in the quarter finals.
Eight-time winner Nadal was made to work against a stubborn Ramos, who broke back in the 11th game to force the first-set tiebreaker. Nadal eventually came out on the winning end of a long rally of baseline shots for a 4-2 lead as he went on to take the set.
“After losing in the Monte Carlo, I wanted to raise my game here,” Nadal said. “It just took a while.”
Nadal was steadier after that but still could not shake Ramos. He sealed it after a quick talk with the tournament doctor by breaking his fellow left-hander to win the match. “I had to accept that I was going to be made to work today, that I was not playing at my best,” Nadal said. “But I got through it.”
Nadal will face Ivan Dodig next after the Croatian dismissed Feliciano Lopez of Spain 6-1, 6-4.
Ferrer, meanwhile, will not be facing Nadal in the final for a fifth time after the 55th-ranked Gabashvili dominated Ferrer on his favoured clay to reach the last 16.