2022 in Review: Rafael Nadal sets Felix Auger-Aliassime clash

Rafael Nadal defeated Botic Van De Zandschulp in the Roland Garros third round

by Jovica Ilic
2022 in Review: Rafael Nadal sets Felix Auger-Aliassime clash

Rafael Nadal moved into the last 16 at Roland Garros for the 17th time from 18 visits to Paris. Rafa ousted Botic Van De Zandschulp 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in two hours and 11 minutes in the third round, remaining on the title course and setting the clash against Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Nadal delivered his 301st victory at Majors following a solid performance on serve and return on Court Suzanne-Lenglen. Rafa claimed 40 out of 46 points behind the first serve and got broken twice from three chances offered to his rival.

Botic could not take advantage of them after dropping almost half of the points behind the initial shot and giving serve away six times from 12 chances presented to Rafa.

Rafael Nadal did not lose a set in the opening three rounds at Roland Garros.

The Spaniard had 25 winners and 13 unforced errors, taming his strokes nicely, especially in the opening two sets.

Nadal built a massive lead in the shortest and mid-range exchanges, while Van De Zandschulp stayed in touch in the most prolonged rallies. The Dutch player placed a deep return in the opener's first game to deliver an early lead.

The Spaniard responded in the second game to break back at 15 and get his name on the scoreboard. Both players served well in the next three games, and Rafa forged a 4-2 lead with a break in game six following his rival's forehand error.

Nadal forced the rival's mistake with a mighty forehand in game seven and closed the opener with a service winner at 5-3 after 35 minutes. Rafa stormed over his rival in set number two, delivering one good hold after another and taking charge on the return.

He broke Van De Zandschulp in the third game with a forehand down the line winner and fired a service winner in the next one for 3-1. The Spaniard placed a forehand crosscourt winner into an open court in the fifth game to grab a break and extend the advantage.

Nadal cracked another mighty forehand in the sixth game to forge a 5-1 lead and move closer to the set. Botic saved a set point on his serve in game seven before Rafa closed the set with an ace for 6-3, 6-2 in 74 minutes! The Dutch player squandered game points at the start of the third set and sprayed a forehand error to lose serve.

Nadal forced the rival's error in the third game to deliver another break and move 3-0 in front. A service winner sent Rafa 4-0 ahead before he lost the ground a bit. In the sixth game, the Spaniard sprayed a backhand error to lose serve and keep the rival in contention.

The Dutch player held at 30 in game seven to reduce the deficit before Nadal landed a volley winner in the next one for 5-3. Van De Zandschulp held for 4-5, and Nadal served for the victory. Rafa fended off a break chance with a service winner, created the second match point with an ace and converted it with a smash winner at the net for a place in the last 16.

Rafael Nadal Felix Auger-aliassime Botic Van De Zandschu