Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Double ton means nothing, insists Nadal

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal last night dismissed his 200th victory on clay as a meaningless statistic after burying the ghosts of his only French Open defeat by reaching this year's quarter-finals.

Four-time champion Nadal was stunned by an inspired Robin Soderling in round four 12 months ago, but despite a defiant display on Philippe Chatrier Court, young Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci was unable to repeat the feat.

Although he created a similar number of break points as his illustrious opponent, the 24th seed was ultimately beaten in straight sets, 6-2 7-5 6-4, as Nadal set up a quarter-final clash with fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro.

Nadal has now won 200 of his 216 matches on clay, with his only defeat over five sets on the surface coming against Soderling.

But despite reaching a landmark number of wins yesterday, the 23-year-old said: “There's never one day when I think, ‘Oh, okay, that's my 200th victory or umpteenth victory'.

“I don't think in these terms.

“We never know when these statistics are still valid or if they're going to continue to be that good.”

Despite facing arguably his toughest opponent so far, dropping serve four times, Nadal felt he rose to the occasion.

“I played probably my best match today in the tournament,” said the second seed.

“I had the match under control — a set and 3-2, 40-15 I think,” he said.

“I made two mistakes. After that, everything was difficult.”

Nineteenth seed Almagro set up a repeat of his 2008 quarter-final against Nadal by beating Fernando Verdasco 6-1 4-6 6-1 6-4 on Suzanne Lenglen Court.

Novak Djokovic claimed his second-set slump against Robby Ginepri yesterday was down to him apparently not being a “morning person”.

Four the third time in four matches at Roland Garros, world number three Djokovic did not have it all his own way early on against Ginepri. But the Serb eventually woke up to seal a 6-4 2-6 6-1 6-2 victory on Philippe Chatrier and set up a quarter-final against 22nd seed Jurgen Melzer.

“I'm really not a morning person, so it took a lot of time for me to get into the rhythm and warm up basically for the match,” Djokovic said.

“With that kind of game I showed in the third and fourth set, I think I have a good chance against anybody on the court now.”

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