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Spain's Rafael Nadal has sights set on hitting hot spell

By Tom Allnut

Rafael Nadal admits he is eager to find consistency after the Spaniard moved into the French Open second round with a straight sets win over French wild card Quentin Halys.

Nadal has struggled for his usual dominance on clay in the build-up to Roland Garros but the nine-time champion showed few signs of weakness against Halys, who he beat 6-3 6-3 6-4.

"I had some up and downs during the season so it is normal that can happen here but I am trying to avoid that," Nadal said. "I had a good match, a solid one. When I had some opportunities I seized them.

"The first four games in the first set were tough, I made some mistakes, but then afterwards I was able to hit my shots.

"I had some problems with my serve, but on the whole it was okay. I dominated the game. I managed to play some strokes down the line, so I handled the match very well.

"It was a solid performance. I'm happy."

Halys, who is ranked 296th in the world, was always unlikely to cause an upset but Nadal was impressed with his 18-year-old opponent.

"He made some mistakes but when you want to take risks on every single ball, then the mistakes are going to happen," Nadal said. "Tennis is moving that way - younger, aggressive players - and the tour in general are moving to hit the ball stronger and quicker, going for the winners all the time.

"When he wants to play like this and he put the balls in, I could not do anything."

Nadal will now face fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, who beat Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov in four sets.

Almagro beat Nadal on clay in Barcelona last year but it was his only victory in 13 meetings between the pair.

"Both players are very tough opponents to play in the second round," Nadal said before Almagro had won.

"They are not players you want to play. Both are players of high quality so obviously it is not a good round but it is what it is."

Number one seed Novak Djokovic is also safely through to round two after he beat Finnish veteran Jarkko Nieminen 6-2 7-5 6-2.

Serena Williams powered her way into the second round with a 6-2 6-3 win over Czech qualifier Andrea Hlavackova.

Williams is gunning for her third Major title at Roland Garros and the American encountered few problems in dispatching Hlavackova, who is ranked 166th in the world and has never made it past the first round in Paris.

The 33-year-old was dominant throughout, hitting five aces and 25 winners, while perhaps most importantly there were no visible signs of her troublesome right elbow causing her discomfort.

Four breaks of serve were enough for the world number one to seal victory in 59 minutes.

Canadian sixth seed Eugenie Bouchard, a semi-finalist in 2014, crashed out in the first round at the hands of France's Kristina Mladenovic.

Bouchard went down 6-4 6-4 to the world number 44, a defeat which will lead to a dent in her world rankings. Mladenovic goes on to face either Danka Kovinic of Montenegro or Klara Koukalova of the Czech Republic.

The defeat was the Canadian's eighth in her last nine matches after the season started relatively promisingly with a run to the quarter-finals at the Australian Open.

For 22-year-old Mladenovic, the win follows her first-round defeat of Chinese star Li Na at the French Open at the same stage last year.

"To get past the first round in these conditions, it's magnificent," said Mladenovic.

Fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki is through to the second round with little fuss, beating Italy's Karin Knapp 6-3 6-0.

Belfast Telegraph


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