Nadal Brings Tsunami To Advance At Roland Garros
Once it starts, it comes quickly, that Rafael Nadal tsunami of momentum and forehands. For 57 minutes, the 10-time champion's efforts to race through the opening set at Roland Garros were stymied again and again by Guido Pella. The Argentine saved six break points in the opener.
But Nadal, on his fifth set point, broke through and the games flowed from there as the Spaniard coasted to a 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 win on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.
“I'm happy about the things that happened this afternoon, of course. I played a solid match, and it's true that during the match I improved the level. The forehand, especially after the first set, I think it starts to go quicker and find more of the right spots, playing more inside the court and hitting many more winners,” Nadal said.
“So just happy for that and happy about the concentration that I was able to hold all the time, the right focus on the match to keep doing things better and better.”
The Spaniard had been 26-3 against left-handers at Grand Slams, a small but possible opening for the lefty Pella, considering Nadal's current Roland Garros record of 81-2. But Nadal had no trouble striking his forehand often against the Argentine, and he's again through to the Round of 32 in Paris, where the No. 1 player in the ATP Rankings will meet a familiar foe in France's Richard Gasquet.
The Frenchman denied Malek Jaziri's attempt at Tunisian history 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 6-0. The 2016 quarter-finalist won almost 60 per cent of his second-serve points (16/28) to make the third round for the eighth consecutive year. Jaziri was attempting to become the first Tunisian man to reach the Roland Garros third round in 55 years.
“It was a long match with some strong moments, weak moments. I knew I had to pick up at the beginning of the third set. I knew that it was important at that moment. Otherwise it would have been very difficult,” Gasquet said.
“There were a lot of difficult rallies... I was glad to get 6-3, 6-0, because at the end of the second set I wasn't sure I was going to win like that.”
Nadal and Gasquet were rivals during junior tennis. On the tour-level, they've played 15 times, but Nadal has won all of them in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, including a third-round match at Roland Garros in 2005.
“I have a great relationship with him always, since we were kids. We met each other for the first time when we were 12. First thing is he's a very good person, no? He's a very normal guy. We practised hundreds of times together. He came to Mallorca,” Nadal said. “He always has a positive attitude... It will be a good match against a good friend in the most important place in my career, and for him a very special place, too.”
Watch: Gasquet Reflects On Playing Nadal As A Junior
They last played at the 2017 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati (6-3, 6-4). Gasquet last won a set against Nadal at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Canada, 10 years and 11 FedEx ATP Head2Head matchups ago.
“I'll try to do my best, because unless there is a disaster, as you said, he has a good chance of winning... He's extraordinary. We all know he is,” Gasquet said. “I'm just going to get on the court and try to play a good match... It's a great draw for me. It will be on the centre court. There will be [a lot of] people. I intend to have a good match.”