Nadal shrugs off Monaco hangover with Barcelona win

Spanish player Rafael Nadal celebrates after his winning return in the Barcelona Open.

Story highlights

  • Rafael Nadal continues his Barcelona Open winning streak in first match
  • The world No. 5 defeats 63rd-ranked Argentine Carlos Berlocq
  • Spanish top seed David Ferrer suffers shock defeat to Russian Dmitry Tursunov
  • Barcelona presents another chance to warm up for the French Open in May
Rafael Nadal may have lost his coveted Monaco crown on Sunday but that defeat was soon forgotten as the Spaniard set about another title defense in Barcelona.
The 26-year-old "King of Clay" began his hunt for an eighth Barcelona Open title with a swift victory over Carlos Berlocq.
Nadal broke the world No. 63 four times on his way to a straightforward 6-4 6-2 win to cruise into the third round, extending his record to 2-0 against the Argentine -- who he also beat in the second tournament of his comeback from knee injury in Brasil two months ago.
The red clay of Barcelona is another happy hunting ground for Nadal. He has won 35 straight matches at the event; his last defeat was handed out by fellow Spaniard Alex Corretja 10 years ago.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic ended Nadal's long unbeaten run at his favorite event in Monte Carlo when he beat him in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters -- a tournament he had won eight years in a row.
Rafael Nadal returns to the court
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Rafael Nadal on French Open triumph
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Despite his dominance in Barcelona, the world No. 5 was not given top status at the event, instead compatriot David Ferrer was named as the No. 1 seed.
But his top billing proved to be a curse as the world No. 4 crashed out 7-5 3-6 6-1 in the second round to Russian Dmitry Tursunov.
"I did not feel well on the court today," Ferrer, who is a four-time runner-up in Barcelona, told reporters. "It was the worst match that I've played in the last couple of years.
"I lost the third set too fast. He was better and more aggressive. I just did not feel good."
Ferrer was playing for the first time since injuring his thigh in the final of the Miami Masters, which he lost to British world No. 3 Andy Murray.
The Barcelona Open presents another opportunity for Nadal, and his fellow clay-court specialists, to tune-up for the French Open which begins on May 26.
Nadal, who has a 271-21 record on clay, is aiming to extend his record number of titles at Roland Garros, the second grand slam of the year, to eight in 2013.
"It was not very comfortable and it affected my game," Nadal told reporters ahead of his third-round tie with Frenchman Benoit Paire.
"I don't want to talk about being a title favorite, I'm just very happy to be playing well and into the third round. I'm not looking ahead."