Nadal, Nishikori Launch Barcelona In Style

Stars play mini tennis at Tibidabo

Eight-time former winner Rafael Nadal and two-time defending champion Kei Nishikori launched the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell in style on Monday, playing tennis on top of Tibidabo Mountain to pose for a spectacular photo opportunity overlooking Barcelona.

Between them, Nadal and Nishikori have accounted for 10 of the past 11 editions of this historic ATP World Tour event.

The 29-year-old Nadal arrived straight from Monte-Carlo, where he captured his ninth Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters crown on Sunday with victory over Gael Monfils. After winning his first ATP World Tour title of the season last week, the Spaniard is now looking to regain the Barcelona title that he won from 2005-09 and 2011-13.

“I am very happy about the tournament in Monte Carlo," said Nadal, who is due to open his Barcelona campaign against either Marcel Granollers or Daniel Munoz de la Nava. "It’s one of the most important ones of the season. 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.”

Playing his first clay-court tournament of the season, the 26-year-old Nishikori is looking to three-peat at this ATP World Tour 500 tournament in Barcelona, where he beat Santiago Giraldo in the 2014 final and Pablo Andujar last year.

"I want to win the tournament again,” said Nishikori, who faces either Thiemo de Bakker or wild card Elias Ymer in the second round. “This is my favourite tournament. The toughest 500 event, especially on clay, with all the Spanish players and Rafa in good shape. It will be a tough competition.

“I saw a little bit of the Monte-Carlo final yesterday. It was a great match. I think Rafa is in great shape and he is playing great tennis again. It is going to be a tough match if Rafa and I play the final, but it will be a great week.”