ATP Rome: Rafael Nadal eases past John Isner and makes winning start



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ATP Rome: Rafael Nadal eases past John Isner and makes winning start

The defending champion Rafael Nadal is through to the third round at the Rome Masters following a convincing 6-3, 6-1 victory over John Isner. A ten-time Foro Italico winner earned the 69th win at one of his favorite tournaments and bounced back following the Madrid Masters quarter-final loss to Carlos Alcaraz.

Nadal defeated Isner for the eighth time in nine matches, not playing against him since Beijing 2017 and controlling the pace on serve and return to sail into the next round in an hour and 16 minutes. The Spaniard claimed 20 points more than his rival and defended both break chances to keep the pressure on the other side.

Isner was far from those numbers, serving at only 55% (like Rafa) and dropping half of the points behind the initial shot to get broken four times from six opportunities offered to his rival. Nadal hit 11 winners and nine unforced mistakes, and Isner counted 20 unforced errors to plague his chances.

Rafael Nadal defeated John Isner to advance into the third round in Rome.

Rafa had the advantage in service winners and had the upper hand in the shortest and more advanced exchanges to bring the victory home in no time.

Nadal held at 30 in the encounter's opening game, and Isner stayed in touch with two holds for 2-2. Rafa closed the fifth game with a smash winner at the net, and John responded with his best service game to lock the result at 3-3.

Suddenly, Nadal faced two break chances in game seven. Isner squandered both with errors, and those were his last chances to prolong the duel. Rafa grabbed the game with a service winner and scored a desired break in the next one for a 5-3 advantage.

Nadal seized the second break chance in that eighth game after Isner's terrible volley at the net, and he never looked back in the rest of the clash. A ten-time winner held at love in game nine for 6-3 in 43 minutes, gathering a boost ahead of set number two, where he was a clear favorite.

Nadal broke at 15 in the second set's first game after Isner's forehand mistake and cemented the lead with a service winner in game two. The Spaniard secured another break in game five after the American's forehand mistake and opened a 5-1 gap after holding in the next one after deuce.

Returning in game seven, Nadal delivered another break with a forehand down the line winner to seal the deal and advance into the third round.