Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime downs Malek Jaziri in opener in Barcelona

Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime downs Malek Jaziri in opener in Barcelona

BARCELONA, Spain — Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime is off to the third round of the Barcelona Open.

The No. 16 seed from Montreal beat Malek Jaziri of Tunisia 6-3, 7-6 (7) at the ATP Tour 500 clay-court event on Wednesday.

The 18-year-old Auger-Aliassime, who got a first-round bye, will face No. 4 seed Kei Nishikori of Japan in the third round on Thursday.

Auger-Aliassime, ranked 31st in the world, won 77 per cent of his points on first serve, as compared to 62 per cent for the 72nd-ranked Jaziri.

Meanwhile, No. 9 seed Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., lost 7-5, 6-2 Cristian Garin of Chile in a second-round match later Wednesday.

It was the second loss in a row to open a tournament for Shapovalov since his run to the semifinals at the Miami Open last month.

Garin, ranked 48th, had the big edge in first-serve points won, capitalizing on 78 per cent of his opportunities as compared to 57 per cent for Shapovalov.

In other action, Rafael Nadal recovered from a slow start to defeat Leonard Mayer 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-2 and advance to the third round, keeping alive his streak of never losing consecutive matches on clay.

The second-ranked Nadal was coming off a defeat to Fabio Fognini in the semifinals of the Monte Carlo Open last week.

An 11-time champion in Barcelona, Nadal will next play fellow Spaniard David Ferrer. The 37-year-old Ferrer, who is playing in Barcelona for the last time, defeated 15th-seeded Lucas Pouille 6-3, 6-1 in his second-round match.

The top-seeded Nadal squandered three set points in the first set, including two in the tiebreaker after exchanging breaks late in the set. He rebounded quickly by breaking Mayer’s serve in the first game of the second set, then cruised to victory against the 63rd-ranked Argentine.

“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.”

Fognini won’t be able to add to his Monte Carlo win after withdrawing from the Barcelona tournament because of a hamstring injury. He was replaced by 104th-ranked Roberto Carballes Baena, who opened with a 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2 win over Nicola Kuhn.

Seventh-seeded Daniil Medvedev reached the third round by defeating Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3, 2-6, 6-1, while American Mackenzie McDonald advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win over 11th-seeded Gilles Simon.

— with files from The Associated Press.

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