ATP Roland Garros: Rafael Nadal opens title hunt with a commanding victory

Tennis - The 11-time champion defeated a qualifier Yannick Hanfmann in straight sets

by Jovica Ilic
ATP Roland Garros: Rafael Nadal opens title hunt with a commanding victory

World no. 2 and 11-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal is safely through to the second round, ousting a qualifier Yannick Hanfmann 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 in an hour and 57 minutes. Rafa delivered his 87th victory in Paris from 89 matches and 254th at Majors overall, never losing serve and dominating on the return as well for the place in the last 64 where he will face another qualifier.

The Spaniard had 20 winners and 15 unforced errors, keeping Hanfmann on 17 direct points and some 30 errors as his defense and general pace proved to be too much for a qualifier to handle. The 2nd seed stole half of the return points, earning five breaks and keeping his games safe to control the scoreboard all the time.

Interestingly, Hanfmann created his four break points in the very first game of the match for more than a positive start, denied by the Spaniard who blasted three service winners in the pivotal moments, bringing the game home and avoiding a little upset at the beginning of the encounter.

Yannick couldn't break Nadal's defense in the second game, sending a forehand long to suffer a break and allowing Rafa to move 3-0 up with a backhand crosscourt winner in the next game. Serving at 2-5, a former USC star netted an easy forehand to drop serve for the second time and hand the opener to Nadal after 38 minutes.

Landing 17 out of 19 first serves in, Rafa had the upper hand in set number two all the time, giving away three points behind the initial shot and delivering breaks in games two and six for a 6-1 and another big step towards the finish line.

Hanfmann couldn't find the answer for rival's deep and measured strokes, falling 5-1 behind following a backhand crosscourt winner from the Spaniard who completed the set with a hold at 30 a few minutes later when Yannick's drop shot failed to pass to the other side of the net.

Nothing changed in the third set as well, with Nadal delivering one good hold after another to mount the pressure on his opponent, securing a break at 1-1 thanks to a terrible forehand from the German and pushing for every point at always at his beloved Grand Slam.

Returning at 5-3, Rafa grabbed another break after a forehand error from Hanfmann to seal the deal and move into the second round, happy with the way he performed in the opening match of the tournament.

Roland Garros Rafael Nadal Yannick Hanfmann