In 2013, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams became Roland Garros champions for the first time in the same season. Seven years later, two legends are still among the players to beat, with Nadal seeking the 20th and Serena the 24th Major in Paris.
While Rafa is still in contention for the 13th Parisian title, Serena had to withdraw ahead of the second-round clash against Tsvetlana Pironkova, struggling with an Achilles injury. Serena defeated Kristia Ahn after an excellent comeback in the opening set, dominating the second to find herself over the top.
Still, the American had to withdraw and leave Paris, hoping to get ready for 2021. Asked about Serena after his second-round encounter, Nadal said he couldn't say much, as he doesn't know all the details and how serious the injury is.
The Spaniard wished Serena quicked and successful recovery, praising her passion for tennis for more than two decades. In his second match in Paris, Rafa ousted Mackenzie McDonald 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 in an hour and 40 minutes, sailing into the last 32.
The Spaniard had 31 winners and 15 unforced errors, never facing a break point and stealing McDonald's serve seven times from eight opportunities to earn the 95th victory in Paris from 97 matches. Both Nadal and McDonald lost nine points behind the initial shot in the first set, with a difference in the break chances, as the Spaniard faced none while converting both for 6-1.
Rafa lost four of those points behind the initial shot in the opening game, holding after two deuces and taking control from game number three. Nadal secured it at love and drew first blood with a backhand down the line winner a few minutes later, stealing McDonald's serve at love to open a 3-1 lead.
Rafa cemented the break and grabbed another in game six when Mackenzie sprayed a forehand error. Serving for the set, the Spaniard held at 30 with a forehand winner for 6-1 in 30 minutes, looking determined to bring the victory home in no time.
Rafael Nadal wished Serena Williams quick recovery from an Achilles injury.
The American lost ground in set number two, hitting one winner and 11 unforced errors and suffering a bagel, standing powerless on both serve and return.
Nadal broke at 15 in the first game when Mackenzie netted a backhand, landing a volley winner in game two to open a set and a break advantage. McDonald sent a forehand wide in the third game to give serve away, reaching four deuces on the return in the next one but failing to create break opportunities.
Crumbling the opponent with deep and powerful strokes, Nadal seized another break in game five with a backhand down the line winner, securing the second set with a service winner at 5-0 to move two sets to love up in 64 minutes.
Mackenzie held with a backhand winner in the first game of the third set, ending the streak of 11 games lost. Rafa brought the second game home at 15 and scored a break in game three following a backhand slice mistake from the American.
The Spaniard closed the fourth game with a volley winner before Mackenzie produced a fine hold after a forehand winner and remained within one break deficit. A forehand winner delivered a hold at love for Rafa in game six, keeping his strokes on a high level and moving two steps away from the win.
Finding the rhythm on serve in those moments, McDonald landed a drop shot winner for the third comfortable hold of the set, reducing the deficit to 3-4. Never putting a foot wrong in his games, Rafa clinched the eighth game with a service winner, forcing the opponent to serve for staying in the match.
Nadal landed a backhand crosscourt winner for another break that propelled him into the next round, competing on a high level and looking strong ahead of more challenging opponents. "I don't like to talk about things I don't know much about; I don't want to speculate about how serious the injury is.
Of course, it's sad news for Roland Garros and tennis; I wish Serena a fast and good recovery. All the comebacks are tough, especially when you are a bit older; it gets more challenging. Serena has been showing a passion for this sport since she arrived, and I hope she will be fine in a couple of months," Rafael Nadal said.