Rafael Nadal recalls: 'I faced tough rival, I'm happy to beat him in straight sets'
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 3652
A year ago, Rafael Nadal advanced into the Roland Garros fourth round for the 16th time in 17 trips to Paris. Rafa toppled Cameron Norrie 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 in two hours and seven minutes in the third round. It was Nadal's 103rd Roland Garros victory in 105 matches, and he earned it after a solid display on serve and return.
Rafa lost serve twice in a row in the second set and erased that deficit quickly with six breaks from 12 opportunities. The Spaniard had the upper hand in the shortest and most extended exchanges, firing over 30 winners and acting as the determined player.
Nadal served well in the opener and kept the pressure on the other side. Both players served well at the beginning of the match before Rafa grabbed a break at 3-2 following Cameron's forehand mistake. Nadal confirmed the advantage with a forehand winner in game seven and held at love at 5-3 with a service winner to secure the opener.
Norrie grabbed two breaks in the second set, which was insufficient for a positive result. Nadal secured 62% of the return points and stole the opponent's serve four times to maintain the lead. The Briton secured a break in game two after forcing Nadal's forehand error and stayed in front only for a couple of minutes.
Rafa broke back with a forehand winner to get back on the positive side. Returning well in those moments, Norrie earned another break in game four with a backhand down the line winner, and Nadal erased the deficit in the next one.
Rafael Nadal defeated Cameron Norrie at the last year's Roland Garros.
Rafa held at 15 in games six and eight and stole his opponent's serve at 3-3 to forge the advantage. Returning at 5-3, Rafa placed a perfect backhand crosscourt winner to secure a break and a set after 80 minutes, looking good to seal the deal in the third.
The Spaniard held at love at 1-1 and landed an incredible forehand crosscourt winner in the next one to open a 3-1 gap. Norrie saved a break chance in game six and a match point at 2-5 before Nadal sealed the deal on his serve at 5-3 with a forehand winner.
"Today, I faced a great player who has enjoyed an excellent season. I went on the court knowing it could be a tough match, and it was for moments. I'm happy to win in straight sets, and I think I did what I had to do. For moments, I played well, especially in the opening set.
I do not think I was returning unbelievable against Cameron; it was o.k. But then I was solid from the baseline and forced him always to play an extra ball Jannik Sinner is not an ideal fourth-round opponent you can get. Without a doubt, he is a dangerous one.
I need to be ready to play at a very high level to have a chance of reaching the quarters, and I'm going to fight for it," Rafael Nadal said.