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Nadal vs Leonardo Mayer ATP Barcelona Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Nadal targets a return to winning ways after shock Monte Carlo exit

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 23 Apr 2019
  • Rafael Nadal vs Leonardo Mayer is live from Barcelona on Wednesday, 24 April from 2:00pm local time/ 1:00pm BST
  • Nadal leads 5-0 on head-to-head
Rafael Nadal (PA Sport)

Rafael Nadal opens his Barcelona Open title defence on Wednesday when he takes on Argentine, Leonardo Mayer in the second round.

Nadal is looking to get his clay-court season back on track in Barcelona, after suffering a shock semi-final defeat to Fabio Fognini at last week's Monte Carlo Masters. Defeat to Fognini meant he missed out on the chance to claim his 12th title in Monte Carlo, thus improve on his record of most titles at a single tournament in the Open Era, but he gets another chance to reach that dozen mark in Barcelona, where he boasts a formidable 58-3 record.

Nadal was very critical of his performance in last week's defeat to Fognini, describing it as one of the worst matches he'd ever played on clay.

"My personal opinion is that I played one of the worst matches on clay. It's a reality. There is no need to hide it. I do not see the benefit of wanting to deny it,” Nadal ahead of the Barcelona Open. “What has happened has happened”. 

While Nadal's defeat to Fognini came as a huge shock, he hadn't had the most convincing campaign leading up to that match, and appeared more vulnerable than he had been his previous trips to Monte Carlo.

Playing his first tournament since withdrawing from a semi-final meeting with Roger Federer at Indian Wells, Nadal made a positive start in Monte Carlo, dismantling fellow Spaniard, Roberto Bautista-Agut for the loss of just two games in the second round. He overcame a little wobble against Grigor Dimitrov in the second round, winning 6-4 6-1 after surrendering a lead in the first set. He sank into deeper trouble against Guido Pella in the quarter finals, slipping into a 4-0 first set deficit, and flirting with going down 5-0, but he called on his famous powers of recovery to dig out a 7-6 6-3 victory. Powers of recovery can only do so much, and when Fognini refused to drop his level in the semi-finals, Nadal was punished with a 6-4 6-2 defeat. Defeat in Monte Carlo leaves Nadal without a title since last August, but the Spaniard isn't pressing the panic button just yet.

"It is true that I have not won any titles, but I reached the final in Australia, semi-finals in Indian Wells and now semi-finals again in Monte-Carlo. The year is not bad and I'm third in the [ATP Race to London] but with more problems than I would have liked,” Nadal said.
 “The job is to find myself. During the last 18 months, I have had too many stops and ups and downs, non-tennis related. And when that happens... I hope to be ready to play well. And if it is not here, it will be in Madrid, in Rome or at Roland Garros”

Nadal will hope he finds his best form a lot quicker than Rome or Roland Garros, most preferably this week in Barcelona, where he opens against Argentine, Leonardo Mayer.

Mayer earned his shot at Nadal with a 6-3 6-7 7-5 victory over Romania's Marius Copil in the first round. The Argentine sent down seven aces, winning 76% of points on his first serves and saving all five break points he faced in the two-hour 38-minute encounter.

Victory over Copil took his win-loss record for the season to 9-9, with his best results being a quarter final in Auckland, and a third-round showing at the Miami Open- the only tournaments where he's won consecutive matches this year.

Currently ranked 63rd in the world, Mayer has been as high as 21st, a position he reached back in 2015, but his progress was hampered by a shoulder injury, and he was out of the top 100 by the end of 2016.

Mayer battled back into the top 100 in 2017, rocketing to 49th after claiming a second Hamburg title, and he has not dipped lower than his current ranking of No. 63 since then. He has taken a particular liking to Hamburg over the years, reaching his third final at the ATP 500 meet in 2018, but unlike his previous two Hamburg finals (2014 and 2017), he could not quite get over the line, losing to Nikoloz Basilashvili in the title match. He had a poor finish to last season, ending on a six-match losing streak, and while he has been better in 2019, he is yet to do anything really catches the eye.

What would catch the eye is victory over Rafael Nadal on Wednesday.

Nadal has won all five previous meetings, dropping just a set in the process. Their only encounter on clay was at Roland Garros in 2014, Nadal winning 6-2 7-5 6-2.

Mayer has got the firepower to make life uncomfortable for Nadal, especially the serve and the forehand, but Nadal has built an illustrious career disarming players like Mayer, especially on clay. The 11-time champion will be fired up for this one, especially after the events in Monte Carlo, and he should get back to winning ways on Wednesday.

Rafael Nadal vs Leonardo Mayer is live from Barcelona on Wednesday, 24 April from 2:00pm local time/ 1:00pm BST

*Geo-restrictions apply. Streams available to customers with an active balance 

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Nadal vs Leonardo Mayer ATP Barcelona Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Nadal targets a return to winning ways after shock Monte Carlo exit

Rafael Nadal begins his quest for a 12th Barcelona title on Wednesday as he takes on Argentine, Leonardo Mayer. Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online

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