Rafael Nadal remained at his untouchable best on Wednesday, despite being pushed in the third set, advancing 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 against German qualifier Yannick Maden to reach the third round at Roland Garros.
The 11-time champion hit 43 winners and played comfortably all match on Court Suzanne Lenglen, the second biggest show court in Paris, after Court Philippe Chatrier.
The Spaniard broke four times and didn’t face a break point in the opening two sets. But in the third, the 29-year-old Maden gained his composure, and there were four breaks of serve – two by each player – until Nadal broke once more in the ninth game and served out the match.
“I think it was a good match for the first two sets. Not unbelievable, but 6-1, 6-2, with positive feelings. Then in the third, being honest, I think I lost a little bit concentration and intensity. And then all the match became difficult,” Nadal said.
“That’s just about concentration, my feeling, because the feeling on the match had been positive. Positive thing is every time that I had the mistake, then I had the break again, and that’s the good news.”
He improved to 91-5 against qualifiers at tour-level, and 88-2 overall at Roland Garros. Nadal is looking to extend his record haul of 11 Roland Garros titles this fortnight.
The 32-year-old will next face Belgian David Goffin, a 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 winner against #NextGenATP Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic. Asked if it was good preparation for Nadal, Goffin said, “In terms of result, yes, but… he was not a lefty. No one plays like Nadal.”
Nadal leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 3-1, including all three of their clay-court matches. Goffin beat Nadal during group play at the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals in London.
“It is probably the ultimate challenge,” Goffin said of playing Nadal in a best-of-five match on clay. “I need to use angles. I need to play early. If he plays short shots, I will have to do it. But if I have to run a lot, it will be to his favour. And when he starts dictating the match, it becomes very difficult.”
In Nadal’s section of the draw, #NextGenATP Frenchman Corentin Moutet upset 19th seed Guido Pella of Argentina, the clay-court wins leader this year heading into Roland Garros, 6-3, 6-1, 2-6, 7-5. The 20-year-old Moutet led 5-0 in the fourth set and had two match points at 5-2 before eventually closing out the second-round contest in two hours and 31 minutes.
“To play a French guy in Roland Garros is much different than maybe to play in another tournament because they love to play here. The crowd is very special for them,” Pella said. “He didn’t have anything to lose, and I think he played that way.”
Moutet was 1-3 at Grand Slams before this week. He will next meet Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Londero, who beat France’s Richard Gasquet 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to also make his first third round at a Grand Slam. Londero had zero tour-level wins before winning the Cordoba Open title in February in his native Argentina.
“I will try to enjoy as much as much I can the whole day,” Londero said. “I’ve been playing on clay all my life. I love it.”
Did You Know?
11-time champion  @RafaelNadal has won 45 of 46 sets played in the 2R @RolandGarros and he is unbeaten in his last 18 #RolandGarros matches. During that stretch he has won 53 of 54 sets and the only set he’s lost came to @dieschwartzman in last year’s QF.
— ATP Media Info (@ATPMediaInfo) May 29, 2019