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Nadal vs Ferrer tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Nadal looking for form as he faces retiring Ferru in Barcelona

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 24 Apr 2019
  • Rafael Nadal faces David Ferrer in the third round of the Barcelona Open on Thursday
  • Nadal vs Ferrer is live from Barcelona on Thursday at 2pm local/1pm BST
Rafael Nadal (PA Sport)

Rafael Nadal has beaten David Ferrer in four Barcelona Open finals – will he hand the soon-to-retire veteran one final defeat on Thursday?

After battling past Leonardo Mayer in a match that showed he’s still looking for his best form, 11-time champion Rafael Nadal faces a familiar foe in the third round – the retiring David Ferrer.

Nadal’s semifinal defeat to Fabio Fognini at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters sent shockwaves through the tennis world, with the Spaniard generally unbeatable on clay and at three clay-court tournaments in particular – the Monte-Carlo Masters, Barcelona Open and Roland Garros, each of which Nadal has won 11 times, holding the record for most ATP titles won at a single tournament three times over. 

Rafael Nadal won his 11th Barcelona Open title in 2018 (PA Sport)
Nadal was more or less supposed to win the first two as a preamble to claiming the third, even if the other big prizes of the European clay season passed him by. But Fognini had other plans, although the surprisingly one-sided 4-6, 2-6 defeat to the Italian felt like it had as much to do with how poorly Nadal played as Fognini’s inspired performance. Even in tricky, windy conditions, Nadal’s forehand leaked errors and his groundstrokes lacked depth – not a winning formula.

As a consequence, eyebrows were raised when Nadal, having served for the first set against Leonardo Mayer at 5-3, not only lost that service game to be pegged back on serve but went on to lose the set 6-7(7), totaling 16 unforced errors throughout. Nadal, though, has never lost consecutive matches on clay and he broke immediately in the second set and twice in the third to run out, in the end, a 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-2 winner.

‘It wasn't the best start. Not the best feelings out there this afternoon, but I found a way to keep going and to win the match. Today that's the main thing,’ Nadal said. 

‘[Mayer] competes well against everybody but probably today [the problem] was not that he competed very well against me. I was not competing that well.’

It would be plain, even if he hadn’t said so himself, that Nadal is struggling to find his rhythm and feet on the clay courts in a way that he doesn’t usually seem to, and although Toni Nadal’s pronouncement that his nephew wasn’t an injured tennis player so much as an injured person who sometimes played some tennis was a bit hyperbolic, it’s apparent that Nadal’s myriad physical issues are taking an overall toll.

Still, we shouldn’t forget that Nadal was one match away from winning the Australian Open before being beaten handily by Novak Djokovic in January, and that he was a semifinalist at Indian Wells (before having to give a walkover to Roger Federer). Paris is a long way away yet.

Barcelona Open 2019: Tournament information, latest news, live streaming and more

Next up for Nadal is an extremely familiar foe in the form of David Ferrer, his soon-to-retire compatriot who he will be facing for the 32nd time in their careers.

David Ferrer (PA Sport)
Five years Nadal’s senior at 37, Ferrer is currently ranked world no. 155 and a long way from the heady days of being a perennial, stalwart member of the top 10 if not top five for many years. The former French Open runner-up is to retire in Madrid, his body no longer up to the demands of life on the ATP Tour, and he has been conducting a retirement tour in 2019, with Barcelona just the fifth event he has played so far this year.

Ferrer isn’t some toothless old sheepdog, however: There’s still plenty of bite in him, as he’s shown with some quality wins, especially at the Miami Masters, where he beat Alexander Zverev to make the third round. And he’s dropped just eight games so far at the Barcelona Open, beating Mischa Zverev and Australian Open semifinalist Lucas Pouille by identical scorelines, 6-3, 6-1.

Speculation is just that, but it feels permissible to venture the theory that Barcelona is one of the events – alongside Monte-Carlo, Rome and even Roland Garros itself – which Ferrer surely would have won multiple times had he not shared his prime with the greatest clay-court player ever to have existed. As it is, Ferrer’s 30-14 record at the Barcelona Open pales in comparison to Nadal’s 59-3, with the older man making the final four times only to lose to – you guessed it – Nadal. In all five of their meetings at the Barcelona Open, Ferrer has only once taken a set. He trails 6-25 in the overall head-to-head, and wasn’t even able to complete their last encounter, at the US Open in 2018 when Nadal, in more irony, ended Ferrer’s Grand Slam career.

Ferrer hasn’t been playing badly in 2019, it’s just that he doesn’t seem to have it in him physically to be competitive three, four, five days in a row (and his hyper-physical style doesn’t help). I’d expect him to give Nadal a fun challenge for a set or so, but considering that he struggled to beat Nadal at his, Ferrer’s, best, it would surely be far too much to expect him to do so on the brink of retirement. Look for Nadal to book his place in the Barcelona Open quarterfinals once more.

Nadal vs Ferrer Barcelona Open tennis is live on Thursday at 2pm local/1pm BST

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Nadal vs Ferrer tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Nadal looking for form as he faces retiring Ferru in Barcelona

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