Rafael Nadal - Honest Evaluation Spurs Drive for Excellence

Rafael Nadal played a shaky match in the opening round in Rome

by Jovica Ilic
Rafael Nadal - Honest Evaluation Spurs Drive for Excellence
© Dan Istitene / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Rafael Nadal is off to a winning start in Rome, toppling Zizou Bergs 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and 53 minutes. The veteran was unhappy about his level, although he managed to bring the win home and secure another match at his beloved Foro Italico.

Nadal will try to raise his level in the second round and shift good vibes from the practice court to the official action. Rafa forged the advantage in the opener before losing ground. He started all over in the second set, serving well and stealing his rival's serve two times in sets two and three to book a place in the next round.

Nadal grabbed 19 points with his serve. However, his groundstrokes were not where he wanted them, adding 32 mistakes and struggling to impose his strokes after standing too far behind the baseline.

Rafael Nadal, Rome 2024© Mike Hewitt / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The ten-time champion denied seven out of nine break points and secured three breaks, enough to emerge at the top after nearly three hours.

Rafa made a solid start and clinched at 2-1 in the opener, moving in front before getting broken in the next one after Zizou's return winner. The Belgian gained a boost and made another push on the return at 4-4. He converted the second break point after Nadal's double fault, moving in front and holding at love at 5-4 with a winner at the net to wrap up the opener in style.

Rafael Nadal & Zizou Bergs, Rome 2024© Mike Hewitt / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Rafael Nadal defeated Zizou Bergs in the first round in Rome.

Nadal saved two break points in the second set and returned into contention with an early break.

The veteran produced two holds at love and secured a return game at 1-0 to forge the advantage. Rafa saved a break point in the fifth game, moving 4-1 ahead and closing the seventh game after deuce to move closer to a decider.

Bergs returned at 3-5 and created a break point, eager to extend the battle. Nadal denied it with a service winner and wrapped up the set with a forehand winner, forcing a decider after an hour and 49 minutes and gathering a boost.

Rafa painted a forehand winner at 1-1 in the final set, securing a break and moving closer to the finish line.

Rafael Nadal, Rome Masters 2024© Mike Hewitt / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Zizou denied a break point in the fifth game, staying within one break deficit and generating three break chances at 2-3.

Nadal saved them and closed the game after Berg's backhand error for a 4-2 lead, surviving a stern test and seeing the finish line. Rafa climbed back from 0-30 in the eighth game, rattling off four points and moving 5-3 in front.

The Spaniard served for the victory at 5-4 and produced a fine hold, celebrating his milestone 70th victory in Rome and booking a place in the second round. "I did not play well today; it was not a good match. I did not perform as well as I should have.

However, I managed to win and secure another encounter in two days. I have to prove that I can do much better than I did today," Rafael Nadal said.

Rafael Nadal