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Nadal Overcomes Sluggish Start

Rome, Italy

Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal dropped the first set in a tie-break but finished strong.

Top seed Rafael Nadal overcame a surprisingly tough test against World No. 148 Paolo Lorenzo, rallying to win 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-0 Wednesday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. "[There] were tough moments in the match because I felt slow and I felt I was hitting the ball short all the time but still, I finished the match better," Nadal said afterwards. "I am glad that I won and one very positive thing is tomorrow I am going to play better for sure because worse is not possible."

The Spaniard attributed his struggles to the change in conditions between Madrid and Rome. “I think there is a difference between Madrid and Rome, different conditions and the altitude and the speed of the ball and everything is completely different," said Nadal. 

"After losing the final there makes everything more difficult and you know, you do not have time for practise and you are a little bit more tired and you arrive a little bit more sad because you lost the final and all these facts make it difficult.”

Nadal seemed to be in control early on with a 4-2 lead, but was broken at love, committing four consecutive unforced errors. The first set went into a tie-break and the top seed led 5-3, before Lorenzi swept the last four points to claim the set in 66 minutes.

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The five-time Rome champion broke the Italian qualifier to start the second set, but again struggled to maintain his advantage. At 3-2, Lorenzi broke back to level the set. It stayed on serve until 4-4, when Nadal finally dug in to take command of the match, winning the final eight games to clinch the win in two hours and 37 minutes.

"I think that that during the second set when he was making the points, I was thinking that I was a little bit more stressed than in the first set when I thought the match was going a little bit more on my side," assessed Lorenzi. Added the Italian, "I was feeling really good on the Centre Court... my decision and what I did was what I prepared with my coach and so I think I did everything."

In the third round, Nadal will play compatriot Feliciano Lopez. The Spaniard fired 12 aces en route to his 6-4, 3-6,6-3 victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber. The World No. 1 has defeated Lopez in seven of their nine meetings, and has won all three of their encounters on clay.

Nadal needs to win his next two matches to guarantee his position atop the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings heading into Roland Garros. 

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