Nadal Fires Warning To Title Rivals At Roland Garros
Spaniard dominates McDonald for third-round berth
The Spanish superstar blitzed past World No. 236 Mackenzie McDonald 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 in just one hour and 40 minutes on the new Court Philippe-Chatrier for his 95th victory in 97 matches at the clay-court major.
"I am very happy," Nadal said in French on court after his triumph. "[It] will be another difficult match against Travaglia or Nishikori. I hope to play a good level. It’s always very special to play here in Paris, especially here on Court Philippe-Chatrier, so I’m very happy to play another time.”
This was the 12th time that Nadal has lost four games or fewer in a completed match at Roland Garros. His most lopsided performance came in the 2017 third round, when he lost one game against Nikoloz Basilashvili.
Nadal got to work immediately and won 11 straight games from 1-1 in the first set, which ended when the 19-time Grand Slam champion drew McDonald to the net with a drop shot and then fired a forehand cross-court winner. It continued to be one-way traffic in the second set and McDonald only ended his game-losing streak with a service hold at the start of the third set.
McDonald began stepping into the court more aggressively, holding his own in the final set. But it was too late. Nadal completed his victory in fitting fashion, hitting a backhand winner — his 31st winner of the match — to advance to the third round.
"I am just trying my best every single day. I am working hard in every practice to try to be better and better in every match," Nadal said. "Today was not that cold, so that's the main thing. Not that cold, the conditions are not that bad."
Nadal only struck 15 unforced errors, with four of those coming on double faults. He gave McDonald almost no free points, winning 55 per cent of his first-serve return points. The second seed broke serve seven times and did not face a break point.
McDonald, who tore his right proximal hamstring tendon at Roland Garros last year, was in the second round at this tournament for the first time. The American beat then-World No. 4 Juan Martin del Potro to reach the Delray Beach semi-finals last year, but playing Nadal on the terre battue was a different challenge.
Nishikori entered the match with a 24-6 record in five-setters, including nine consecutive victories in them. But Travaglia, who had been 0-3 in five-setters, overcame the three-time Roland Garros quarter-finalist behind seven service breaks.
The 28-year-old is into the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time. Travaglia has never previously played a Top 5 opponent.