Returning to Paris last November following the 20th Major crown at Roland Garros, Rafael Nadal prevailed against Feliciano Lopez 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 in the second round at Paris Masters. After a grueling battle, Rafa earned the milestone victory and became 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 the Spaniard over the older compatriot, prevailing in set number two and scoring an early break in the decider that pushed him over the top. Rafa saved three out of four break chances and grabbed one out of seven break points to emerge at the top.
Nadal kicked off the match with a double fault and suffered an early break and a setback. Lopez confirmed the advantage with a service winner in game two before Nadal got his name on the scoreboard with a hold at 30. In the fourth game, the veteran saved a break chance with an ace down the T line, and Nadal fired another ace to remain within one break deficit.
Rafa netted a forehand in game six to hand another game to his rival before holding at 15 to stay 3-4 behind. Feliciano moved 5-3 in front with an ace before Rafa closed the ninth game at love and forced 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 to keep the pressure on the other side.
Nadal held at 15 with an unreturned serve in the first game and created two break opportunities at 2-1. Feliciano saved those to stay on the scoreboard's positive side before playing against four more break opportunities at 2-3.
After a slow start, Rafael Nadal beat Feliciano Lopez in Paris 2020 for 1000th win.
Nadal failed to convert them, 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 and fired 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 decider. The younger Spaniard clinched a break at love in the third set's first game and defended 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, advancing into the third round and securing the 1000th ATP win. "It was a tough start against a great player on this surface.
He had a lot of great results, and he knows me very well. For me, it was the first match on hard court in a long time, especially indoors. I started the encounter in the worst possible way, especially against a big server like Feliciano.
I played under a lot of pressure in the rest of the clash, but I found a way, which is the most important thing. This victory is the one that I'm very proud of. Sometimes, personal satisfaction is more significant when you win matches like this than if you go on court and score a 6-3, 6-3 victory," Rafael Nadal said.