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Nadal Opens Bid For Seventh Title

Paris, France

Nadal© Getty ImagesWorld No. 2 Rafael Nadal is now 46-1 lifetime at Roland Garros.

Second seed Rafael Nadal began his quest for a record* seventh Roland Garros title on Tuesday with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 first-round victory over Simone Bolelli of Italy. He improved to 46-1 on Parisian clay and to 150-21 lifetime at major championships.

Nadal was forced to rally with an aggressive Bolelli in the early exchanges but then pulled away to win 10 of the first 12 games of the match to set up a 6-2, 4-0 lead. He suffered a lapse in concentration and World No. 111 Bolelli had a chance to get the second set back on serve at 2-4 only to fail to convert two break point opportunities. Nadal quickly restored his dominance to close out the set and then went onto drop just 13 points in the third set.

"I'm happy," said Nadal, who revealed he does not know the exact colour of his shirt. "I played, probably, with less stress or nerves than in other first rounds in the past. I relaxed a little bit at 6-2, 4-0, [in] my opinion. I was playing very well at beginning of the match. After I had the break [at 2-2], that period of of eight, nine games, until 4-0, I was playing well."

Nadal hit 20 winners and dropped 19 points on his serve. He made 18 unforced errors in the pair's third meeting and is now 34-4 on the 2012 season.

The 25-year-old Spaniard has lifted 35 clay-court trophies, placing him third on the list for most red dirt titles in the Open Era behind Guillermo Vilas (45 titles) and Thomas Muster (40).

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"I didn't play so good today," admitted Bolelli, who thinks Court Philippe Chatrier is slower than the outside courts. "I just tried to play my tennis, my game. I tried to play aggressively with the forehand, with the serve, but today I miss a lot. He's strong. I mean, I didn't have a chance to make the match even. Maybe, just in the second set, I played three, four good games."

Frenchman Julien Benneteau, the No. 29 seed, playing his first match since the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters in April, beat German qualifier Mischa Zverev 6-2, 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4. Benneteau, 30, is one of 37 players aged 30 or over in the main draw. He was a quarter-finalist in 2006 (l. to Ljubicic). 

Another Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, the World No. 55, recorded the 48th clay win of his career with a battling 6-4, 6-1, 6-7(3), 3-6, 11-9 victory over Yen-Hsun Lu on Court 3.

* Frenchman Max Decugis won eight Roland Garros titles in 1903-04, '07-09, '12-14. But the French championships did not invite international players to compete at the tournament until 1925.

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