Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Tennis

My desire to improve still burns bright, insists victorious Nadal

No sweat: Rafael Nadal en route to his first-round victory
No sweat: Rafael Nadal en route to his first-round victory

By Paul Newman

Clay-court master Rafael Nadal quickly adapted to the new surroundings at Roland Garros with a 6-2 6-1 6-3 demolition of German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann in the first round of the French Open yesterday.

On a revamped Court Philippe Chatrier, the 11-time champion wasted little time in despatching Hanfmann after the German had the audacity to say in the run-up to the match that he could do 'some damage'.

Nadal will next meet another qualifier, German Yannick Maden.

Hanfmann failed to seize potential opportunities as Nadal, who usually starts slowly at Roland Garros, limited his unforced errors to 11.

The quest for perfection has always defined Nadal and the win improved his Roland Garros record to a remarkable 87-2. The Spaniard is hoping to become the first player to win the same Grand Slam title 12 times.

"What I've done during all my career is go on court with the goal to improve something, and that makes me feel alive and makes me feel passionate about the process of improving anything," the second seed explained.

After suffering consecutive semi-final exits in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid this season, questions were asked about Nadal's form heading into his favourite Grand Slam.

He answered many of those doubts by beating rival Novak Djokovic to win the Italian Open title in Rome, but even that was not enough to convince Nadal that he was ready for Paris.

"It's difficult to be convinced that you're okay," he said. "I think when you're convinced about something, you're very arrogant, because most of the time you can hope that something is going to happen, and have the desire for something to happen.

"But to be convinced, I'm almost convinced about nothing."

Later in the day, top seed Djokovic eased into the second round with a 6-4 6-2 6-2 defeat of young Polish player Hubert Hurkacz.

Kyle Edmund will have to finish off his first-round match against Frenchman Jeremy Chardy today after play was suspended for bad light deep in the fifth set.

With the pair locked at 5-5 and the time ticking towards 9.30pm, the decision was made to stop the match for the night after five minutes short of four hours.

Edmund will serve first today with the score at 7-6 (1) 5-7 6-4 4-6 5-5.

• Jamie Murray will split from his doubles partner Bruno Soares after the French Open.

The pair began their partnership in 2016 and won two Grand Slam titles together that year at the Australian Open and US Open.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph