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Tennis: Nadal to begin Barcelona tilt against Berlocq

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Rafael Nadal will start his campaign at the Barcelona Open against Carlos Berlocq after the Argentine beat Daniel Gimeno-Traver 7-5, 6-4 on Tuesday to earn the right to face the second seed.

Nadal, the world number five who stands behind compatriot and three-time losing finalist David Ferrer in the seedings at the Real Club de Tenis, insists his focus is on this tournament and not his preparation for next month's French Open at Roland Garros.

Having lost for the first time in 10 years at Monte Carlo on Sunday, in a final reverse against world number one Novak Djokovic, Nadal had said he needs to improve his physical condition ahead of a tilt at an eighth French Open crown.

But even so, his focus right now is merely on winning an eighth title in Catalonia.

"I play Barcelona, that's my schedule. Roland Garros is very far (away)," said the 26-year-old.

"I will try my best now to play a very good week in Barcelona, it's a tournament that I love.

"We have Barcelona, then we have Madrid, then we have Rome. I have enough time (before the French Open)."

Nadal defeated the 63rd-ranked Berlocq when they met in the Sao Paolo quarter-finals in February as the former world number one made his return to tennis after seven months out with knee injuries.

Nadal has won seven out of the last eight editions in Barcelona, missing out only in 2010 when he did not play due to injury.

Third seed Tomas Berdych needed to call on all his skill and resilience to qualify for the third round as he recovered to beat Nikolay Davydenko 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

Two-time semi-finalist Davydenko had a chance to win the match but let his one match point slip from his grasp in the tenth game of the second set when he returned long.

That was all the incentive Berdych needed to take control and emerge victorious in two-and-a-half hours.

The Czech took the second set on his third chance and ran away with the third, ending it on his ninth ace.

German eighth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber also had a tough battle to reach the third round eventually prevailing in three sets over Russian Andrey Kuznetsov 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/2).

Colourful Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis added to the current clay court misery of Fernando Verdasco as he knocked the 12th seed from the event.

Gulbis won 6-3, 6-4, leaving the 2010 tournament champion with a 1-3 record on clay this season.

In opening round play, Australian Bernard Tomic beat French qualifier Kenny De Schepper 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

It took the world number 47 just under two hours to advance to the second round as he put his opponent under pressure with 18 break points - 14 of which were saved.

Spaniards Tommy Robredo and Albert Ramos advanced while Eduardo Roger-Vasselin of France defeated Czech Jan Hajek 6-2, 6-7 (1/7), 6-2.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130423/tennis-nadal-begin-barcelona-tilt-against-berlocq-0