PARIS, France – Rafa Nadal produced an imperious show on Wednesday, May 25, to secure his 300th Grand Slam match victory, dismantling local hope Corentin Moutet, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 to book his spot in the French Open third round.
Nadal counts 13 Roland Garros titles among his overall 21 majors – the highest among men – and despite his injury-blighted buildup to the claycourt tournament he has looked at his usual best in the first two rounds.
The Spaniard, whose preparations were hampered by a rib injury and a foot problem, was not keen to talk about his physical condition.
“I can’t try to go very deep in a tournament if I’m worried about my physical issues every single day,” he told reporters.
“So if something happens, I am gonna accept it. But for the moment I am focused on the tennis.”
The Spaniard, who turns 36 next week, will next meet Dutch 26th seed Botic van de Zandschulp with a potential quarterfinal looming against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic who defeated him in last year’s semifinals.
Playing under the lights at Court Philippe Chatrier, Nadal peppered the red clay with winners from both his forehand and backhand in the first two sets to leave Moutet stranded.
In his first career meeting with the 23-year-old French wildcard, Nadal broke Moutet’s serve four times in the first two sets but uncharacteristic errors at the start of the third allowed his opponent to take a 2-0 lead.
Nadal immediately broke back, however, to get the set back on serve and after another exchange of breaks, the Spaniard broke Moutet again to seal victory on his first match point.
“Preparation hasn’t been perfect so I didn’t expect a perfect start to the tournament,” Nadal said.
“But it has been going quite well. I am positive about the things that I did out there tonight. Of course, there is room to improve and I need to improve if I want to keep having chances to go deeper.”
Zverev saves match point in five-set thriller
Alexander Zverev overcame a woeful start to reach the third round of the French Open, saving a match point in a 2-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 7-5 victory over up-and-coming Argentine Sebastian Baez on Wednesday.
The German third seed survived a late fightback from the world No. 36 and screamed his lungs out when Baez sent a forehand wide on match point.
It was the fifth year in a row that Zverev, who achieved his best result at Roland Garros when he reached the semifinals last year, had to go through a five-setter in one of the opening two rounds.
“I lost a US Open final being two sets up and I’ve learned from it. He’s unbelievable and he’s got a bright future ahead of him,” Zverev said of his opponent, who won his maiden ATP title in Estoril earlier this month.
“I just tried to fight. You have to win these kind of matches, when you’re not playing well because you can’t always play well.”
Zverev had beaten Baez in the Rome Masters this year and he knew what to expect against a player who has been rising up the rankings fast.
“I think he played a very good match, especially in the beginning. I had absolutely no rhythm today in the beginning on that court,” he told reporters.
“It was extremely windy. The conditions were very different than the other day, so took me a while to get into the match, but I knew I had to keep fighting.
“I knew I had to just find a way, especially in the second set, I mean, I knew that I was not going to win it, but I knew that I have to find a rhythm in that set.”
Zverev looked out of sorts in the opening set, allowing his opponent to race to a 5-1 lead practically unchallenged on a windswept court Philippe Chatrier.
He fell 4-0 down in the second before starting to find his range and while it was not enough to save the set, the German carried the momentum into the third.
Clicking into top gear, Zverev went 3-0 up and won five games in a row to open a 2-0 lead in the fourth set, which he won comfortably.
The 21-year-old Baez looked completely overwhelmed, but then fought tooth and nail to break for 4-2 in the decider as Zverev’s unforced errors crept up again.
The German broke straight back with a backhand winner down the line but faced a match point at 5-4, which he saved with a big first serve.
Zverev then broke for 6-5 as Baez fired a backhand wide and he played a solid last game to set up a third-round encounter with American Brandon Nakashima or Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor. – Rappler.com