Ruthless Nadal Ousts Veteran
Former Spaniard concedes just two games to reach second round
Rafael Nadal is sounding his intentions early at the China Open, with the 2005 champion thumping veteran Italian Paolo Lorenzi 6-1, 6-1 in the opening round. The Spaniard, looking for his third ATP World Tour title of the season after clay-court crowns at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte-Carlo and Barcelona, was rarely tested on serve in the 64-minute routing.
He claimed 79 per cent of his first-serve points, including five aces, and saved both break points. In the pair’s first hard-court clash, Nadal was even more ruthless than his two prior victories over the Italian, breaking five times.
“Today I think I played a very solid match, playing very aggressive with my forehand,” Nadal said. “I only played one not so good game. That was at 3-1 of the first set. But for the rest I played a very good match. I’m very happy.”
At 34 years and 221 days, Lorenzi became the oldest first-time champion on the ATP World Tour with victory in Kitzbuhel in July. But he entered this contest with a daunting 0-13 FedEx ATP Head2Head match record and 2-31 in sets against Top 10 opponents. One of those sets he took, however, was against Nadal at ATP Masters 1000 Rome in 2011.
On the quicker Beijing hard court, six years later, Nadal’s strategy had changed. “Since last year in Montreal I am trying to play closer to the baseline and trying to return closer to the baseline, trying to play a little bit more aggressive,” Nadal said.
A runner-up last year to Novak Djokovic, Nadal will face a fellow lefty in the second round; either compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas or French qualifier Adrian Mannarino. Currently in eighth place in the Emirates ATP Race to London, Nadal is determined to shore up his position this week.
“Today is an important victory,” he said. “There are points to try to qualify for the [Barclays ATP] World Tour Finals.”