Like Old Times For Nadal At Roland Garros – ATP World Tour

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Rafael Nadal began his 2016 Roland Garros campaign the way almost all of his matches have gone in Paris: comfortably.

The nine-time champion never faced a break point and breezed past Australian Sam Groth 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 in an hour and 20 minutes to move into the second round. The Spaniard lost only five points on his serve (40/45), landed 84 per cent of his first serves and hit 25 winners to three unforced errors.

“It’s obvious that it was a good start for me. The most important thing that I had to do today, I did well, which was return. I played without making many mistakes,” Nadal said.

Groth, meanwhile, struggled to get his serve-and-volley game going. The Aussie, who was looking for his first win at Roland Garros and just his second tour-level clay-court match win, donated nine double faults and landed only 58 per cent of his first serves.

Nadal, who won Roland Garros in 2005-08 and 2010-14, is trying to become the first player in the Open Era to win 10 titles at any Grand Slam event. He already is the only man in history to have won five consecutive titles at Roland Garros. The World No. 5 is now 71-2 in Paris.

“It’s great to play here in France and in Roland Garros. I feel always the support of the crowd here,” Nadal said. “[This] is the most important place in my career, so to feel the support of the people here is something very special for me… Thank them for that.”

In the second round, Nadal will face Argentine Facundo Bagnis, who beat Frenchman Kenny De Schepper in three sets.

Dominic Thiem matched his best performance at Roland Garros by reaching the second round. Thiem, who defended his title at the Open de Nice Cote d’Azur on Saturday, dismissed Spaniard Inigo Cervantes 3-6, 6-2, 7-5, 6-1.

Thiem, along with Nadal and Pablo Cuevas, are the only players on the ATP World Tour who have won multiple clay-court crowns this year. The 13th seed will play another Spaniard in the second round, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who beat Thiemo de Bakker in four sets.

In a match that started on Monday, John Isner prevailed against Australian John Millman, who was making his Roland Garros debut, 6-7(4), 7-6(12), 7-6(7), 7-5. Isner, the 15th seed, hit 40 aces to advance in a match that originally was scheduled for Sunday. It was Isner’s second match since 10 April because of a knee injury. The 6’10” 30 year old lost to Lukas Rosol in Geneva last week.

“It’s a big confidence booster for me. I’ve had a lot of extremely close matches this year and also came into this tournament without much match play at all,” Isner said. “There were some moments in that match that I just went AWOL a bit on my serve. Three times I lost my serve. I played some pretty poor games. I’m up 30-Love, and next thing you know, minute later I lose the game.

“That stuff comes with match toughness, I think. But getting through this one was crucial for me. I’m very happy to be moving on.”

The American’s best result at Roland Garros was a fourth-round showing in 2014 (l. to Berdych). He will face #NextGen player Kyle Edmund of Great Britain in the second round.

Quentin Halys, another #NextGen player, also advanced to celebrate his first main-draw win at Roland Garros. The 19-year-old Frenchman dismissed fellow #NextGen player Hyeon Chung of South Korea 6-1, 6-4, 6-4. Halys broke Chung five times and lost his serve only once.

“It was great to play against Chung today, and also to have some guys who are better than us. Of course it’s great to be a part of the Next Generation on the ATP. It’s a good motivation,” Halys said. “I’m working hard every day and it pays off. I didn’t expect to play that well on clay so quickly, but I’m working hard. I intend to continue.”

Feliciano Lopez also moved into the second round. The 21st seed outlasted Italian Thomas Fabbiano in four sets. Lopez will face Victor Estrella Burgos of the Dominican Republic in the second round.

Like Old Times For Nadal At Roland Garros – ATP World Tour