Nadal does not give Carreño a break in his convincing return to the slopes

Nadal does not give Carreño a break in his convincing return to the slopes

They won 6-1 and 6-1, in one hour and 13 minutes, in their first game since February 29. He will play on Friday in the quarterfinals against the winner of the match between Raonic and Lajovic.

Nadal does not give Carreño a break in his convincing return to the slopes

Rarely was the presence of Rafael Nadal in Rome loaded with such interest. Be careful, we are talking about the nine-time champion of the tournament , the number two in the world and the winner of 19 Grand Slam titles. It is not that any of his appearances at the Foro Italico lacked the formidable pull that his figure deserves, but rather the exceptionality with which he appeared at the tournament this year. Everything remains the same, nothing has changed, as if the game had not stopped for him in all this time. With a convincing performance, he beat Pablo Carreño, in one hour and 13 minutes, and will play the quarterfinals on Friday against the winner of the match between Milos Raonic and Dusan Lajovic. [6-1 and 6-1: Narration and statistics]

It had been 200 days since his last game, to be, against Taylor Fritz, in Acapulco , with the title 85 of his career, and it was necessary to go back to June 9, 2019 to find his already penultimate appearance on clay; in a big way, of course, certifying against Dominic Thiem his twelfth cup at Roland Garros.

Absent of his own accord at the US Open , Nadal has returned to the Italian capital on a course shaken by the pandemic that is ravaging the world. Nothing and nobody is safe, and tennis is also moving in its new normal, for now, with the stands naked and the protagonists subjected to the logical measures of maximum protection.

Low resistance

The Mallorcan did not take long to finish with the margin of uncertainty. In front of him he had Pablo Carreño, a recent semifinalist of the United States Open, 18th in the ranking, a rival of hierarchy for the debut. Carreño held out until he lost his service for the first time, in the fourth game. Cornered in the backhand zone, he soon saw his attempts to shorten exchanges dismantled. His attacks on Nadal's second serve did not prosper, which immediately added to the traditional dominance with the drive , changes of rhythm with the backhand cut.

Few should be able to put on a Nadal so similar to himself, without difficulties to impose the rhythm that is used to on clay. Perhaps his low percentage of first aces (49%), a marginal issue, since he was able to dominate the game, leaving the data as an almost unnoticed issue. Carreño, who again found himself at a disadvantage in the third game of the second quarter, was faced with a greater challenge than those attacked in his brilliant stint in New York. In six games he has only started one set from the left-hander. Winning Nadal is within the reach of very few. And on clay it is still a colossal undertaking.

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