Roland Garros King Marches On

Rafael Nadal is through to round four after a victory over Fabio Fognini on Court Phillipe Chatrier.

Yesterday, the reigning champion was heavily critical of the Roland Garros scheduling – brandishing it as a ‘joke’. Italian Fognini had the pleasure of a free day yesterday having been scheduled earlier on in Thursday’s schedule, which was hampered by rain – forcing Rafa to play yesterday, beating Martin Klizan 4-6 6-3 6-3 6-3 to progress to the match he won today. The Spaniard’s point was that the women who were scheduled prior to him, because of their shorter three-set matches, should have been put back due to the men playing the longer five-set Grand Slam matches.

Anyway, despite all that the third seed was on court today. In the first set, Nadal broke the 26-year-old’s serve on two occasions but that was matched, along with his holds of serve, meaning the opening set would be decided on a tie-break – which was won 7-5 by the seven-time champion.

The second set consisted of just one break, which was won by the Mallorcan. However, the world number 29 had his chances – which you mustn’t fail to convert, particularly against a player of his opponent’s calibre on clay.  At 5-4 to Nadal, Fognini failed to convert three break points, one of which he’ll be in particularly disappointed with as his failed to capitalize on an opportunity at the net, and paid the price – Spain’s number one held and won the second set 6-4.

What proved to be the final set was concluded in the quickest fashion of the three sets, Rafa won – taking the match 7-6 6-4 6-4.

The match wasn’t as straightforward as it appeared for the winner. It’s fair to say that the reigning champion hasn’t been at his best yet, and did drop two sets in his two opening matches. Particularly in the first set, rallies were long. Fognini hit 47 winners overall, 23 more than the man on the opposite end of the court, but the world number 29’s considerable amount, 59, of unforced errors contributed to his downfall.

So it seems we’re yet to see the best of Rafael Nadal at the 2013 French Open, perhaps his energy’s being preserved for possible long and physical encounters in latter rounds with the world’s best, all challenging to knock him off his clay throne. Firstly, he’ll have to come past Japan’s Kei Nishikori, who has never beat Nadal in four meetings and is the world number 15, in the fourth round.

– Nathan Morley

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