'When you watch Rafael Nadal play...', says top coach

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'When you watch Rafael Nadal play...', says top coach

2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up David Goffin got off to a strong start to the clay-court season with a 6-2, 7-6(3) first-round victory against qualifier Damir Dzumhur. "It was not easy. I started very well getting an early break on the first one.

The first set was really good, 6-2 with some good groundstrokes, with a good serve, very precise," Goffin said. "The second set was a little bit more difficult. I started serving a little bit some double faults, some missed first serves, so he had a chance to get into the rally more often and then he had time to look for more drop shots.

But in the end, even though I had a break down, I played well to come back from the set and with a solid tie-break, so I'm happy to have my first clay-court win in the first clay-court tournament of the year. It gives me confidence for the next round." The Belgian will next play three-time champion Pablo Andujar, who defeated second seed Daniel Evans in his first match on Tuesday.

Rafael Nadal is undoubtedly the invincible champion of red-dirt. His achievements on the surface will probably remain unmatched by any active or retired player yet. Such is his dominance on this surface that literally no one is close to catching up with his statistics.

He has won the French Open, which is the so-called culmination of the clay season, a record 13 times.

Nadal is undoubtedly the invincible champion of red-dirt

Patrick Mouratoglou lavished praise on Carlos Alcaraz, remarking that he agreed with the popular assessment that the Spaniard is the heir apparent to Rafael Nadal.

"I completely understand the comparison with Rafa. Firstly they are both Spanish, secondly they are super physical players. Third, they are mentally incredible. It is already a lot. I think they have the same style of play. I'm talking about Rafa today and not Rafa at the age of Alcaraz," Mouratoglou said.

"He was playing completely different, much further back with long rallies and spin and now he is more aggressive. I would say Carlos Alcaraz is the modern version of Rafa." At the same time, Patrick Mouratoglou emphasized that the pair were not without their differences.

"There are a lot of differences too. There is a rightie and a leftie and that makes a big difference. Rafa's technique is unique and I would say Carlos Alcaraz's is a bit more classic," Mouratoglou said. "When you watch them play it doesn't look like they are the same, but in terms of quality there are similarities and in the style of play too."

Rafael Nadal