Nadal sets new Open Era record with Barcelona win

Rafa Nadal

Rafael Nadal set a new record for consecutive sets won on clay as he dispatched Roberto Carballes Baena at the Barcelona Open on Wednesday.

The Spaniard had matched Ilie Nastase’s effort of 36 sets won in a row when he defeated Kei Nishikori to win an 11th title in Monte-Carlo on Sunday.

And on Wednesday – having received a bye into the second round – Nadal returned to the court for his opening match at the Barcelona Open, reeling off his 37th and 38th sets to dispatch countryman Carballes Baena 6-4, 6-4 and break Nastase's record.

Nadal has not dropped a set since losing to Dominic Thiem in Rome last season, and not many would bet against him extending that record in Barcelona this week, where he is aiming for an unprecedented 11th title.

Carballes Baena actually started brightly, surprising all by converting an early break point for a 2-0 lead.

But Nadal bounced back immediately with a break of his own, and soon raced into a 4-2 lead after forcing another opening.

He would wrap up the first set in just over an hour, and while Carballes Baena continued to fight in the second set, battling back from a break down get it back to 3-3, it only served to delay the inevitable.

A relentless Nadal would claim the decisive break a couple of games later to march merrily into the third round.

Earlier, former World No 1 Novak Djokovic's recent struggles continued as he went down 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 to Martin Klizan.

Japan's Nishikori, meanwhile, was forced to retire after losing the first set against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, seemingly nursing an injury after last week's heroics in Monte Carlo.