11-time champion Rafael Nadal found himself in a hole during the early stages of his Barcelona opener against Ilya Ivashka on Wednesday. But the Spaniard was able to dig deep and turn things around, eventually registering a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 win.
Nadal has now improved his record in first-round matches at the ATP 500 tournament to an impressive 16-0.
During the press conference after his victory, Rafael Nadal was asked to evaluate his scratchy performance at the start of the match. In response, the Spaniard admitted that he hadn't yet found his best tennis in this year's clay season.
Nadal also praised his opponent, insisting that a player's rank doesn't always indicate his real level.
"I don't think I've played at the level that reassures," Rafael Nadal said. "That he is outside the top 100 is circumstantial, I do not think he has played at the level that his ranking says."
Rafael Nadal had earlier claimed that he had put his loss to Andrey Rublev at Monte Carlo in the rearview mirror. But during his presser on Wednesday, the Spaniard suggested that he did let that shock defeat play on his mind during his first match at Barcelona.
"I think what the press says, no? When you come from losing a game and out there doing bad things just like the other day, well there are always a few days of doubts you have to overcome," Nadal said.
"I think I can improve a little bit of everything, no?" - Rafael Nadal
The big-hitting Ilya Ivashka, who went through the qualifying event just to get into the main draw at Barcelona, had Rafael Nadal on the ropes in the first half of the match. The Belarusian got off to a flying start as he took the opening set 6-3, which forced Nadal to play more aggressively.
Nadal acknowledged during his presser that the first set was out of his control, but seemed satisfied at the way he managed to change the complexion of the match. The Spaniard then vowed to work hard to find solutions to his recent shortcomings.
"In the first set I was in his hands," Nadal said. "But then I improved, was more aggressive. I think I can improve a little bit of everything, no? I didn't play much for one year, I have the confidence with the work every day I'll find the solution."