'Rafael Nadal plays at home at Roland Garros,' says his rival

Rafael Nadal defeated Botic Van De Zandschulp in straight sets in Paris last year

by Jovica Ilic
SHARE
'Rafael Nadal plays at home at Roland Garros,' says his rival

Rafael Nadal met Botic Van De Zandschulp in the Roland Garros third round. The Spaniard delivered a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 triumph to move into the last 16 for the 17th time in Paris. The Dutch player spoke about this match in Pune and said it was tough to challenge Rafa at his second home in Paris.

Botic stayed in touch in the third set after erasing a massive deficit. However, he needed more to prolong the battle against a 13-time champion. Rafa dominated with his first serve and experienced two breaks. Botic could not match that pace after losing almost half of the points in his games.

Van De Zandschulp suffered six breaks from 12 chances offered to a better-ranked opponent to end his run in the third round. Nadal had a massive lead in the shortest and mid-range exchanges, and Van De Zandschulp followed his pace in the most prolonged rallies.

Botic made a promising start and grabbed a break in the encounter's first game. Rafa pulled it back instantly and forged a 4-2 lead with another return game. Nadal closed the opener with a service winner at 5-3 after 35 minutes and stormed over his opponent in the second set.

The Spaniard delivered one good hold after another and kept the pressure on the return. He broke Van De Zandschulp in the third game and extended the advantage with another return game at 3-1 after a forehand crosscourt winner.

Rafael Nadal defeated Botic Van De Zandschulp in straight sets in Paris.

Botic saved a set point in game seven before Rafa closed the set with an ace in the next one for 6-3, 6-2. The Spaniard raced into a 4-0 lead in the third set before losing ground ahead of the finish line.

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 sealed the deal on his third match point with a smash winner for a place in the last 16. "My first match against Rafael Nadal came at Roland Garros. I met Rafa on clay at Roland Garros, his second home, and the circumstances could have been better.

I was a bit impressed by Rafa and the court, and it was not easy for me to challenge him," Botic Van De Zandschulp said.

Rafael Nadal Roland Garros Botic Van De Zandschu
SHARE