'Facing Rafael Nadal is very frustrating,' says his Roland Garros rival



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'Facing Rafael Nadal is very frustrating,' says his Roland Garros rival

Rafael Nadal is through to the fourth round at Roland Garros for the 17th time from 18 trips to the French capital. The 13-time champion defeated Botic Van De Zandschulp 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in their first clash on the Tour to reach the last 16 and set the clash against Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Botic battled hard in the third set from two breaks down, although it was insufficient to prolong the duel and his chances. The Dutch player praised the Spaniard and his ability to push rivals to the limit and always force them to play an extra shot.

Rafa dominated with his first serve and suffered two breaks from three chances offered to his rival. Botic could not match that pace after losing almost half of the points in his games, suffering six breaks from 12 opportunities given to his opponent.

Nadal hit well to build a massive lead before losing ground a bit in set number three. Still, he stayed calm to seal the deal and deliver his 108th Roland Garros triumph. Rafa had a massive lead in the shortest and mid-range exchanges, and Van De Zandschulp followed his pace in the most prolonged rallies.

Botic grabbed a break in the encounter's first game, and Rafa pulled it back instantly. The Spaniard forged a 4-2 lead with a break in game six and forced the rival's mistake with a mighty forehand in the next one to cement it.

Nadal closed the opener with a service winner at 5-3 after 35 minutes and gained a boost ahead of set number two.

Botic Van De Zandschulp explained his first meeting with Rafael Nadal.

Rafa stormed over his opponent in the second part of the match, delivering one good hold after another and keeping the pressure on the return.

He broke Van De Zandschulp in the third game and extended the advantage with another at 3-1 after a forehand crosscourt winner. Botic saved a set point on his serve in game seven before Rafa closed it with an ace for 6-3, 6-2 in 74 minutes.

The Spaniard raced into a 4-0 lead in the third set with a double break before losing ground a bit. He allowed Van De Zandschulp to reduce the deficit to 5-4 with a hold at 15 in game nine. Nadal served for the match in the next one and created a match point with a volley winner.

Botic denied it and earned a break chance that Rafa saved with a service winner. The Spaniard grabbed the third match point with a smash winner for a place in the last 16. "Rafa's ball comes back differently; there is no one who plays like him.

The feeling is that you have to win each point many times because it's incredible how he moves. His high return to my backhand troubled me a lot. It's very frustrating to feel that you play well and do not hurt him," Botic Van De Zandschulp said.