The former World No. 4 recovered from 4-6, 2-4 down and was forced to break serve to stay in the match at 5-6 in the second set, before he charged to a 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 victory against Guido Pella after two hours and 39 minutes. The 2014 and 2015 champion claimed three service breaks in the decider to improve to 23-6 in Barcelona.
Egor Gerasimov made a successful debut in Barcelona with a 7-5, 6-1 win against former Top 5 star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Belarusian converted four of his five break points to eliminate the 2010 quarter-finalist in 80 minutes. Gerasimov will meet #NextGenATP Italian Jannik Sinner in the second round.
In the opening match on Pista Rafa Nadal, 2015 runner-up Pablo Andujar battled past Gilles Simon 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. Andujar broke serve on six occasions to confirm a second-round clash against fifth seed and countryman Roberto Bautista Agut.