Rafael Nadal in cruise control, Juan Martin Del Potro beats Julien Benneteau at French Open
Rafael Nadal was playing exhibition stuff at times, but will also be aware that sterner tests lie in wait, starting with a third-round tie against Richard Gasquet at the French Open; Juan Martin Del Potro beat Julien Benneteau 6-4 6-3, 6-2.Updated: Jun 01, 2018 00:01 IST
Rafael Nadal seldom had to shift through the gears as he dominated Guido Pella 6-2 6-1 6-1 to reach round three of the French Open.
The world number one needed almost an hour to wrap up the first set, but then quickly stamped his authority on the match as Pella wilted in Paris.
Nadal, a 10-time victor and the defending champion at Roland Garros, was playing exhibition stuff at times and the Spaniard will be aware that sterner tests lie in wait, starting with a third-round tie against Richard Gasquet.
Pella had four opportunities to break in the first game as Nadal made an uncharacteristically sloppy opening.
The Argentine failed to take the chance, though, and, after matching his illustrious opponent early on, was punished in game six - Pella saving two break points before putting a forehand into the net on the third.
Nadal was not as fluent as his usual lofty standards in the opening games, but Pella’s impressive resolve was broken again when serving to stay in the opener, saving four set points in a 12-minute game before finally yielding.
Momentum was now truly on Nadal’s side and so was luck, a fortunate clip of the net seeing him break early in the second set and a break to love followed en route to a swift 5-0 lead.
Pella avoided the bagel but was on the back foot again in the third – Nadal earning two break points in game three that he converted with a crunching forehand winner.
Now in full flow, Nadal played a couple more mesmerising forehands to bring up a double-break 4-1 lead, Pella’s misery compounded with a double fault when Nadal was on match point.
Del Potro wins
If you’re playing in your last tournament, then hope to avoid Juan Martin Del Potro, who beat Julien Benneteau 6-4 6-3, 6-2 in the local favourite’s final match at Roland Garros on Thursday to reach the French Open third round.
Del Potro ended American Andy Roddick’s career at the 2012 U.S. Open and that of Russian Marat Safin in the Paris Masters in 2009.
The Argentine served well and played neatly throughout to subdue Benneteau, who achieved his best result at a Grand Slam when he reached the French Open quarter-finals in 2006.
Del Potro, whose career has been hampered by injuries, withdrew from this month’s Rome Masters with a groin problem, sparking fears about his prospects in Paris.
The dangerman in the top half of the draw, fifth seed Del Potro, playing in the tournament for the first time since 2012, next faces Spanish 31st seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
The 36-year-old Benneteau, who will retire at the end of the season, played the French Open 16 times between 2002 and 2018.
First Published: May 31, 2018 22:15 IST