ATP Paris: Rafael Nadal edges Lopez to join Roger Federer in 'Club 1000'

by   |  VIEW 6949

ATP Paris: Rafael Nadal edges Lopez to join Roger Federer in 'Club 1000'

Competing for the first time since Roland Garros, Rafael Nadal returned to Paris and prevailed against Feliciano Lopez 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 in two and a half hours. Rafa earned the milestone victory, becoming the fourth player in the Open era with 1000 ATP wins after Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl and Roger Federer.

It was the tenth victory for Nadal over the older compatriot, prevailing in set number two and scoring an early break in the decider that sent him over the top. Both players won nine points on the return in the opening set, with Lopez fending off a single break point and delivering an early break for 6-4.

Rafa won only one point behind Lopez's first serve, with the older Spaniard hitting 14 winners and 11 unforced errors to dictate the pace. Feliciano had the upper hand in the shortest and mid-range exchanges to stand strong, leaving Nadal with a lot of work to be done in set number two.

Nadal kicked off the match with a double fault, suffering a break in the first game and experiencing an early setback. Lopez confirmed the advantage with a service winner in game two, with Nadal getting his name on the scoreboard with a hold at 30 a few minutes later.

The veteran saved a break chance in the fourth game with an ace down the T line before Nadal held with an ace to remain within one break deficit. Rafa netted a forehand in game six to hand another game to his rival, holding at 15 in game seven to stay 3-4 behind.

Rafael Nadal scored the 1000th ATP win against Feliciano Lopez.

Feliciano moved 5-3 in front with an ace in the eighth game before Rafa closed the ninth game at love to force Lopez to serve for the set. With no sign of nerves, the 39-year-old held at love following a service winner to wrap up the opener 6-4 in 40 minutes.

With no room for errors, Nadal lost four points behind the initial shot in set number two and created five break chances. Lopez saved them all to reach a tie break that Rafa won 7-5 to survive and set a decider. Nadal held at 15 with an unreturned serve in the first game, creating two break opportunities in game four.

Remaining calm, Feliciano saved those to stay on the scoreboard's positive side, playing against four more break points at 2-3. Nadal failed to convert those, serving well by the end of the set but not creating more opportunities ahead of the tie break.

At 3-3 in the breaker, Rafa landed a volley winner to grab a mini-break, firing two winners to earn three set points. Lopez saved the opening two on his serve before Nadal seized the third to seal the set and gather a boost ahead of the final set.

The younger Spaniard clinched a break at love in the first game of the third set and saved two break chances in the next one to move 2-0 in front. Both players served well in the remaining games and Rafa sealed the deal with a hold in game ten, moving into the third round and securing the 1000th ATP win.