Rafael Nadal: 'The opening set was my best on clay this year'

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Rafael Nadal: 'The opening set was my best on clay this year'
Rafael Nadal: 'The opening set was my best on clay this year'

Playing against Richard Gasquet for the 17th time on Thursday night at Roland Garros, the birthday boy Rafael Nadal scored the 17th victory over the French rival, beating him 6-0, 7-5, 6-2 in two hours and 14 minutes. Nadal earned his 102nd victory in Paris from 104 encounters, passing slight issues during the night session at Court Philipp-Chatrier to advance into the third round.

Describing the match, Nadal said that he played on a high level almost from start to finish, especially in the opener, struggling a bit in the closing stages of the second set but still sealing the deal in straight sets. The Spaniard had 36 winners and 23 unforced errors, delivering seven breaks from 16 opportunities to control the scoreboard and extend the winning streak against Gasquet that started in Toronto 2008, never losing a set since then!

Nadal was the only player on the court in the opener, bringing it home in no time after 11 winners and three unforced errors. The Spaniard dropped two points behind the initial shot and secured three return games for a bagel, his milestone 40th at Majors and the 21st in Paris.

Nadal held at love in the first game and placed a return winner a few minutes later for a 2-0 advantage. Rafa blasted a backhand down the line winner in the third game to cement the break and moved 4-0 in front when Gasquet sprayed a forehand error.

Nadal fired an unreturned serve in game five and closed the opening set with a forehand crosscourt winner a few minutes later.

Rafael Nadal scored a bagel against Richard Gasquet at Roland Garros.

The Spaniard raced into a 5-2 lead in set number two after only an hour and created a set point in the eighth game before the Frenchman started his comeback, fending off a set point and claiming three straight games for 5-5.

Staying focused, Rafa restored the order and grabbed the set with a late break at 6-5 to move closer to the finish line. Richard fended off two break chances at 1-2 in set number three to remain in touch before Nadal grabbed a break two games later when Gasquet netted a forehand.

Marching towards the finish line, Rafa held at 15 in game seven and sealed the deal with another break at 5-2 to advance into the third round, where he plays against Cameron Norrie. "I think I played a great first set, one of the best of the season on clay.

There were no mistakes, and I brought high intensity, winners and deep balls. The second set was also good until 5-2, but I couldn't convert the set point in game eight. Then I played a loose service game, and Richard took advantage of it, being a great player.

He served well in those moments, but I found a way to win the set. Then in the third, I had to work a little more, struggling a bit with the wind but bringing the victory home. I get positive feelings, although it is much better to play with the public; otherwise, I think I played on a high level tonight," Rafael Nadal said.

Rafael Nadal Richard Gasquet Roland Garros

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