Back on clay after 465 days, Nadal rolls on

Rome, September 17

Nine-time champion Rafael Nadal confirmed little indicators of rust when he performed his first match in 200 days as he beat fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 6-1 6-1 within the Italian Open on Wednesday.

Nadal, who acquired a bye into the second spherical, has not performed a match since successful his 85th singles title in Acapulco, having skipped the Western & Southern Open and the US Open in New York attributable to Covid-19 considerations.

The match was additionally Nadal’s first on clay in 465 days after his French Open triumph final yr and the 34-year-old Spaniard despatched an ominous message to the sphere as he dominated the US Open semifinalist from begin.

“It’s good to be back on the Tour but obviously the feeling is not the best playing without crowds,” Nadal stated. “At least there’s one positive thing, the sport is back.”

Nadal broke within the fourth sport to take a 3-1 lead and didn’t look again, successful the final 10 factors within the opening set to place down a marker for Carreno Busta, who struggled with the tempo of the ball on clay after two hardcourt tournaments.

The second set was extra of the identical as a visibly jumpy Nadal couldn’t wait to get going between video games and the world No. 2 wrapped up the match in 73 minutes with 20 winners whereas Carreno Busta made 28 unforced errors.

“I played a good match, maybe he was a little bit tired from New York (where) he played an amazing tournament,” Nadal added. “It’s a perfect start for me, I played solid, some good shots with the forehand and backhand.”

Italian wildcard Jannik Sinner pulled off a surprising upset within the second spherical when he beat third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-1 6-7(9) 6-2 to take revenge on the Greek who beat him in straight units on the identical stage final yr. Sinner, 19, led 6-1 5-2 earlier than Tsitsipas got here again and saved match factors within the tiebreak, however Sinner clinched the decider.

Muguruza beats Coco

Women’s No. 9 seed Garbine Muguruza recovered from a set right down to defeat Coco Gauff 7-6(3) 3-6 6-Three within the second spherical. After claiming the opening set on a tiebreak, the two-time Major winner noticed her 16-year-old opponent recuperate to win the second.

Gauff took the benefit within the third, however a sport by which she hit three successive double faults modified the course of the match. — Agencies

Other outcomes

Men’s singles: D Shapovalov bt P Martinez Portero 6-Four 6-4; D Lajovic bt M Raonic 7-6 4-6 6-2

Women’s singles: S Kuznetsova bt A Kontaveit 4-6 7-5 6-3; D Kasatkina bt Okay Siniakova 6-2 6-3

Men’s Doubles: R Bopanna/D Shapovalov bt R Farah/J Cabal 6-Three 3-6 10-5

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