Nadal back in action in Barcelona

Shapovalov powers past Sandgren at Winston-Salem

Fresh off his victory in Monte Carlo, Rafael Nadal is back in action at this week's Barcelona Open.

The Spaniard was on hand with two-time defending champion Kei Nishikori to launch the tournament on Monday.

The duo posed for a spectacular photo opportunity as they played tennis on top of Tibidabo Mountain.

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"This part of the season, with Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome and then Roland Garros, is the most emotional part of the year for me," said Nadal.

"I play at home in Barcelona and next week, too, in Madrid, and it's a fact that I always enjoy playing in front of Spanish crowds, so I'm very excited."

Reflecting on his win in Monte Carlo, Nadal added: “Yesterday was a great day. I played at a very high level during the entire week. But now I have to continue like this in the next tournaments.

“Athletes live for their victories. We have to fight hard to do well and achieve victories.

"The objective in 2016 is to be happy. I have to keep playing, but be happy above all. I am looking forward to the tournament.”

Nadal has a bye in the first round and will face either Marcel Granollers or Daniel Munoz de la Nava in his first match.

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Nishikori said: "It's good to see Rafa playing at a great level again. I'll play a match at a time and hope I can stay here for a long time."

In Monday's first-round action, there were wins for Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic, Malek Jaziri of Tunisia and Victor Estrella Burgos of the Dominican Republic.

Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili was also in action, coming from a set down to beat Nicolas Almagro of Spain 1-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2.

Gabashvili wasn't the only Russian to advance. Nineteen-year-old Karen Khachanov beat Aljaz Bedene 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-2), while Evgeny Donskoy defeated Facundo Bagnis 7-5, 7-6 (7-5).

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