World no. 2 and the 12-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal is off to a winning start in Paris. Rafa took down Egor Gerasimov 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 after a rock-solid performance, delivering impressive numbers on serve and creating enough damage on the return to seal the deal in straight sets.
It was Nadal's 94th Roland Garros victory from 96 matches, extending his dominance at clay Major and preparing the second-round meeting with Mackenzie McDonald. Hitting 32 winners and 20 unforced errors, Rafa lost only 17 points behind the initial shot, getting broken once and converting all five break chances to race into the next round.
Hitting eight winners and five unforced errors, Nadal had the upper hand in the opening set, dropping five points behind the initial shot and challenging the Belarusian to repeat those and stay in contention. Gerasimov produced four comfortable holds, suffering one break to hand the set to the defending champion.
Egor put his name on the scoreboard with a fine hold at love in the first game, landing an ace to bring it home and pass the first obstacle against the most formidable rival on the other side of the net. The 12-time champion also held at love in his first service game before Gerasimov placed a backhand crosscourt winner in game three to remain in front.
The Spaniard closed the fourth game with a service winner and drew first blood a few minutes later after landing a perfect drop shot winner for a 3-2 advantage. Nadal confirmed the advantage in game six following a forehand error from his opponent, held at 15 in game eight to stay ahead and wrapped up the opener with an ace at 5-4 after 39 minutes.
The defending champion presented even better numbers in set number two, firing ten winners with six unforced errors and dropping three points behind the initial shot, eight overall in sets one and two!
Rafael Nadal played on a high level in the first round at Roland Garros.
Again, Gerasimov was there to fight, having no troubles in four out of five service games but getting broken once to push Nadal closer to the finish line.
Rafa held at love with an ace in game two and grabbed a break in the next one following a backhand error from Gerasimov to open a 2-1 lead. The Spaniard grabbed the fourth game at love with a forehand crosscourt winner, earning one good hold after another and controlling the pace.
The returners claimed a couple of points in the remaining games, with Rafa securing the set at 5-4 when Egor placed a forehand long. The Belarusian held at 15 in the first game of the third set and scored a surprising break in game two when Rafa landed a backhand wide, taking half of the entire return points from the opening two sets in just one game!
Nadal pulled the break back immediately, reduced the deficit and held at 30 to level the score at 2-2. Gerasimov fell in the last point of that fourth game, hurt the right ankle and called for a trainer. With a taped ankle, Egor suffered a break at love to send Rafa 3-2 ahead, with the Spaniard firing an ace to close the sixth game and move closer to the finish line.
Eager to finish the job as soon as possible, Nadal earned the third straight break, serving for the victory at 5-2. The Spaniard sealed the deal with a service winner in game eight, moving over the top in two hours and five minutes and looking good in Paris.