Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams became Roland Garros champions for the first and only time in the same season in 2013. Seven years later, two legends were still among the players to beat, with Nadal seeking the 20th and Serena the 24th Major in Paris last October.
While Rafa remained in contention for the 13th Parisian title, Serena had to withdraw ahead of the second-round clash against Tsvetlana Pironkova due to an Achilles injury. After an excellent comeback in the opening set, Serena defeated Kristie Ahn in the first encounter, dominating the second set to find herself over the top.
Still, the American had to withdraw and leave Paris, hoping to recover by the start of 2021. Asked about Serena after his second-round encounter, Nadal said he could not say much, as he does not know all the details and how serious the injury is.
The Spaniard wished Serena a quick and successful recovery, praising her passion for tennis that has been on for over two decades. In his second match in Paris, Rafa ousted Mackenzie McDonald 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 in an hour and 40 minutes to sail into the last 32.
The Spaniard had 31 winners and 15 unforced errors, never facing a break point and stealing McDonald's serve seven times from eight opportunities to control the scoreboard and earn the 95th victory in Paris from 97 matches!
Nadal and McDonald both lost nine points behind the initial shot in the first set, and the Spaniard turned those into two breaks and a promising start after a forehand winner at 5-1.
Rafael Nadal wished Serena Williams a quick recovery from an Achilles injury.
The American lost ground in set number two, hitting one winner and 11 unforced errors and suffering a bagel.
Nadal broke him at 15 in the first game and landed a volley winner to open a set and a break advantage in the next one. McDonald sent a forehand wide in the third game, and Nadal seized another break at 4-0 with a backhand down the line winner before securing the set with a service winner at 5-0.
Mackenzie held with a backhand winner in the third set's first game, ending the streak of 11 games lost. Rafa brought the second game home at 15 and scored a break following the American's backhand slice mistake for a 2-1 lead.
The Spaniard closed the fourth game with a volley winner before Mackenzie produced a fine hold after a forehand winner. In game six, a forehand winner delivered a hold at love for Rafa, who kept his strokes on a high level and moved two steps away from the win.
Finding the rhythm on serve in those moments, McDonald landed a drop shot winner for the third comfortable hold of the set, reducing the deficit to 3-4. Never putting a foot wrong in his games, Rafa clinched the eighth game with a service winner and painted a backhand crosscourt winner a few minutes later for another break that propelled him into the next round.
"I do not like talking about things I do not know much about; I do not want to speculate about how serious the injury is. Of course, it's sad news for Roland Garros and tennis; I wish Serena a fast and good recovery.
All the comebacks are tough, especially when you are a bit older; it gets more challenging. Serena has been showing a passion for this sport since she arrived, and I hope she will be fine in a couple of months," Rafael Nadal said.