TENNIS – Nadal strolls into the third round of the French Open with his 17th win (6-0, 7-5, 6-2) over friend Richard Gasquet. His next match is against Britain’s Cameron Norrie.
The first time Richard Gasquet lost to a young Nadal, he came off court and said Nadal would win at Roland Garros. As we know, Nadal has a hatful of French Open titles to his name now, and is not hanging up his racquet yet.
“Of course, it’s better to win 16 in a row than lose 16 in a row,” Nadal said. “When you go to the match and you have been winning all the last 16 times, of course the confidence is a little bit higher than when you have a tougher head-to-head.
“Being honest, I respect (and) I know how good is Richard. I know he’s coming back after a tough period of time. I think he played smart, playing aggressive. I don’t know. I just went on court with highest respect, with the highest focus possible, and that’s what I try to do every day against everyone.”
Celebrating in style
Nadal’s 35th birthday was also his first experience of the night session on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
He won the first set to love, before making it more difficult for himself in the second.
“I think I played an amazing first set, a great one,” Nadal said. “I don’t feel Richard was playing that bad in the first set to have it like that, but I didn’t miss balls and was hitting all the spots.”
In the second set, it was still good, 5-2, set point for 6-2. I didn’t convert that one. And then I had a very bad game with my serve in 5-3, missing a couple of backhands and then forehand in the 30-40,” he explained.
“Then, of course Richard is a great player. He had some good serves on the next game, and then was tough. But I was able to find a way to win that second set and then in the third, I had to work a little bit more then, because I had to do the break on against the wind. But I did it. I resisted well that game. And finally, I had the break, and then couple more games in a row.”
Nadal has now extended his streak of straight set wins to nine matches.
Britain’s Norrie next
This will be the third meeting with world no.45 Cameron Norrie this year. Nadal feels he will pose a different challenge.
“Well, he’s a great player. He’s winning plenty of matches this year, every week he’s making good results, winning against very good players,” he said.
“I know it’s going to be a tough one. I need to be ready to play my best. I know he has a style of game that is not easy to play against. I need to play well.
“So, let’s see. I hope to be ready to play at the level that I need, and I’m going to be having a good session of practice tomorrow and trying to be ready after tomorrow.”