After the defeat in the quarter-finals of the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters 2021 against Andrey Rublev, Rafael Nadal struggled more than expected in the second round of the ATP 500 tournament in Barcelona, an event that the Mallorcan has already won 11 times in his career.
Ilya Ivashka, current world number 111, broke Nadal in the first game of the match and canceled the ball against the break, thanks to the opponent's poorly calibrated drop shot, before climbing 2-0. Neither player then managed to win other chances in response until the game that allowed the Belarusian player to break Nadal for the second time and close the set at 6-3.
The last partial lost by the 20-time Grand Slam champion on clay against a player outside the top 100 dates back to 2013. In the second set, Nadal immediately set the record straight by winning two games in a row and significantly raising the bar.
Ivashka could not keep up with Nadal and only won two games. In the third and decisive set, Ivashka returned to put Nadal in difficulty and held the serve until 3-3, when the Spaniard forced him to run from one side of the field to the other and systematically lose control of the exchanges.
Thanks to the break obtained in the seventh game, Nadal had the opportunity to serve for the match; opportunities that he did not miss.