Rafael Nadal prevailed over Italian Simone Bolleli 6/4; 6/3; 7/6 (9) in the first round match of the on-going French Open Tennis Championship interrupt by rain over two days. In other matches, the third-seeded Martin Cilic defeated Australia’s James Duckworth 6/3; 7/5; 7/6(4), Denis Shapovalov overcame another Aussie, John Millman , 7/5; 6/4; 6/2 and Garbine Muguruza of Spain ousted another former champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 7/6 (7); 6/2.
Nadal won the first two sets and was trailing 0-3 when the rains came down. When the match resumed, Nadal caught up with Bolleli who, however, held serve in the ninth game to lead 5-4. Nadal hammered serves unto the turf and did not drop a point in leveling five games apiece. The Italian was forced to deuce but held to lead 6-5. Again, Nadal held serve at love.
Bolleli took his first service point in the tiebreak and took one of Nadal’s to lead 2-1 and a second mini-break had him leading 4-2 at the change-over. Each player held serve but Bolleli had the first set point at 7-6. Nadal annulled the threat and reached the first match point at 8-7. He required a third match point to win the break by 11 points to nine for the match and thereby taking his head-to-head tally 6-0 over Bolleli.
Cilic won the first set 6/3 and was leading 5-4 in the second when the heavens sent down water. On resumption, Cilic proceeded to take the second set 7-5. In the third set a more determined Duckworth from Brisbane survived threat of losing serve and held to lead 1- 0. Cilic leveled and thereafter, each player held serve leading to the tiebreaker that the Croat won by seven points to four.
Kevin Anderson won the first two sets, losing only three games against Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi ranked 74 in the world. Lorenzi led 2-0 in the third when rain halted proceedings. After the interruption, Lorenzi held for a 3-0 lead but Anderson held serve in the fourth game and dropped only one game before winning the set 6-4.
Canada’s Denis Shapovalov, seeded 24, won a close first set 7-5 against Millman, but was trailing 2-3 when play was halted. He leveled and broke his opponent in the ninth game. He was taken to deuce on serve but clinched the game and set 6 games to 4. The third set proceeded quickly and ended 6-2 for the victory to Denis.
The 2016 champion, Garbine Muguruza from Spain was tied five games apiece with Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia when their match was halted. When they returned to the court, they battled long in a tie breaker that Muguruza won by nine points to seven. The drain took a toll on Kuznetsova who yielded the second set and match 6-2.
In Nadal’s first round match with Bolleli, the displacement of the routine generated reminiscences on the final match with Zverev in Rome where the rain interruption gave Nadal the change that allowed him lift the trophy for the eleventh time.
In Rome, Nadal took the first set 6-1. In the second set, he had no answer to Zverev’s onslaught as Zverev won five games in a row to clinch 6-1 and then led 3-1. Nadal won a game before the delay but lost nine of eleven games before the rains halted the Zverev blitz-Krieg. When play resumed, the Matador won four straight games to capture the third set and the title. Their next battle in the war of succession is now in Paris where the two are the top seeds; with the likelihood of meeting in the finals, ceteris paribus.
Of that encounter, Nadal stated, “Tennis is tennis; three sets or five sets. Playing best of five is a bigger challenge for the best players and Sascha is one of the best players; so it’s a big advantage for him.”
Now at Roland Garros, although Nadal scaled through rain delays to defeat Simone Bolleli, will Mother Nature again be a factor in the final outcome?
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