'What is happening': Tennis fans in disbelief over Rafa Nadal drama

Rafael Nadal, pictured here during his clash with Ilya Ivashka at the Barcelona Open.
Rafael Nadal looks on during his clash with Ilya Ivashka at the Barcelona Open. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal has left fans baffled after struggling to an unconvincing victory over Ilya Ivashka at the Barcelona Open.

The top seed and World No.3 had to rally from a set down to beat the World No.111 from Belarus 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday.

'PURE PERFECTION': Ash Barty in stunning 22-month first

HUGE: Roger Federer announcement sends fans into frenzy

Nadal lost his serve in the opening game of the match and wasn't able to break back throughout the first set.

He won just 70.6 percent of points on his first serve, was broken twice and had two double faults in an uncharacteristically poor showing on service.

The second set was a different story as Nadal righted his serve, winning 86.7 percent of points, and 83.3 percent in the third.

He didn't face a break point in either set as he surged to victory to advance to the third round.

However his slow start left fans concerned heading into the French Open, particularly after Nadal crashed out of the Monte Carlo Masters last week in the quarter-finals.

The 20-time grand slam champion has won the Monte Carlo and Barcelona events 11 times each.

Fabio Fognini defaulted over line judge abuse

Meanwhile, second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, No.3 Andrey Rublev, No.4 Diego Schwartzman, No.6 Pablo Carreno Busta and No.10 Felix Auger-Aliassime also advanced on Wednesday.

However Fabio Fognini was defaulted for verbal abuse.

The Italian was losing 6-0, 4-4 to Zapata Miralles of Spain when a line judge reported him for swearing after a foot fault.

He had been warned earlier in the match.

Rafael Nadal, pictured here after his victory over Ilya Ivashka.
Rafael Nadal celebrates his victory over Ilya Ivashka. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

At the Serbia Open, Novak Djokovic needed just 68 minutes to top South Korea's Soon-woo Kwon 6-1, 6-3 and advance to the quarter-finals.

Djokovic capitalised on five of his eight service break opportunities in the win.

In the next round, he'll meet fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic, the eighth seed, who needed three sets to oust Arthur Rinderknech of France 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Also advancing was No.2 seed Matteo Berrettini, who defeated fellow Italian Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 6-3.

Fifth seed Filip Krajinovic beat Nikola Milojevic 6-1, 6-1 in an all-Serb match.

with agencies

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.