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Rafael Nadal leans into a forehand against Jordan Thompson at Roland Garros on Monday.

Nadal Cruises Past Thompson At Roland Garros

Spaniard moves to 106-3 match record at clay-court Grand Slam

It was normal service resumed for Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros on Monday afternoon.

The 13-time champion powered to a 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 win over Australian Jordan Thompson in the first round at the clay-court major, marking his 299th Grand Slam win. The Spaniard will now seek to join Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the 300-plus club in a second-round meeting with French wild card Corentin Moutet.

"It is a good start, of course," said Nadal in his post-match press conference. "I played good for a while, then [there were] things that I could do better and I need to do better. But it is a positive start, and that's given me a chance to have one more day of practice tomorrow and then another chance after tomorrow."

Nadal spoke of a chronic foot injury hampering his movement in a third-round defeat to Denis Shapovalov in Rome just 10 days ago, but the Spaniard’s movement and all-around game appeared in fine working order in a two-hour, two-minute victory on Court Philippe Chatrier.

For only the second time in his career, Nadal is seeded outside the top four at Roland Garros, but the 35-year-old’s display against Thompson is a reminder that he remains one of the men to beat in Paris.

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Thompson reached the third round at Roland Garros in 2019 but was unable to counter Nadal’s brutal groundstrokes in the pair’s second tour-level meeting. Although he battled well, the Australian was unable to disrupt the Spaniard’s flow in the baseline exchanges frequently enough to build any sustained pressure.

Nadal broke the Thompson serve seven times in the match as he found good rhythm on his familiar rasping forehand throughout. It was not a flawless performance from the Spaniard, whose level lapsed in the second set as Thompson battled to his only break of the match for 2-4. However, it was only a minor blip for the 21-time Grand Slam winner, who will be pleased who will be pleased with his first-round outing as he seeks a second major title of the year.

Nadal struck 27 winners to Thompson’s 14, a sign of his baseline dominance, but the Spaniard was also effective coming forward. He won 75 per cent (12 out of 16) of points at the net as he frequently hurried his opponent into errors.

"The match started well for me," said Nadal. "Immediately I had breaks so [it] was more or less a solid match from my side.

"When he's serving well, then things become more difficult. He has good legs and can be fast and can be dangerous. But here with such a big court and playing on clay you have more chances against a player like him that can produce great points and great shots, but at the same time, he [can make] mistakes too. On clay that's difficult."

The win takes Nadal to a 2-0 ATP Head2Head series lead over Thompson, having beaten the Australian on the indoor hard courts at the Rolex Paris Masters in 2020.

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