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Nadal To Face Thiem; Bagnis Battles To Marathon Win

Paris, France

Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal records his 60th match win at Roland Garros.

Defending champion Rafael Nadal made a strong start in his bid for a ninth Roland Garros title, improving to a 60-1 mark at the clay-court major with victory over American Robby Ginepri on Monday.

Nadal raced through the opening set in 29 minutes, after winning the first game on a Ginepri double fault on his fifth break point chance. Ginepri held his first three service game of the second set before the top seed pulled away for good, rolling through the last 10 games to clinch the 6-0, 6-3, 6-0 win.

"I won this round, but it was a bit difficult because of the weather," said Nadal, "but it was very important for me, because it gave me the opportunity of having two days' break so that I can practise. That's always positive. When you win, you're always happy. Of course, as always, I had ups and downs, and I could have played being a bit more aggressive."

Ginepri, a former World No. 15 who is currently ranked No. 279, was playing in just his third Grand Slam tournament since undergoing elbow surgery in 2010. He had earned a Roland Garros wild card from the USTA after earning the most Emirates ATP Rankings points at a trio of ATP Challenger Tour events.

"Always wanted to play him on clay and see how good he is," said Ginepri. "He showed me a lesson today. A lot of positives to take away. It was fun out there today, even though the scoreline didn't really reflect it. Thought the match was a little tighter than it showed."

Watch Nadal vs. Ginepri Highlights (Courtesy: French Tennis Federation)

The 27-year-old Nadal is looking to become the first player to win the Roland Garros title five straight times, and next confronts Austrian young gun Dominic Thiem. The 20 year old, playing in just his second major, made his Roland Garros debut with a 6-4, 7-6(3), 6-2 win over Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu.

"I heard very, very good things about him," said Nadal. "I didn't see him play, but I know he's a young player and he's a very dangerous opponent."

Thiem scored his first win over a Top 10 opponent earlier this month at the Mutua Madrid Open, where he came back to upset World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka in the second round. Thiem is currently at a career-high No. 57 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

BagnisArgentine qualifier Facundo Bagnis made a memorable and emotional Grand Slam debut, battling to a 6-1, 6-2, 1-6, 3-6, 18-16 victory over Julien Benneteau. Bagnis clinched the four hour, 26-minute victory with a volley into the open court, and fell to the ground in celebration.

Two years ago, Matheiu had come up on the winning end of an 18-16 decisive set, prevailing against John Isner in the longest match at Roland Garros by numbers of games won.

"Given the fact it was Roland Garros, of course it's cruel," said Benneteau, who came to Bagnis's side of the net to embrace the winner. "But honestly, I want to congratulate him. He was huge. He served perfectly each time. He was present everywhere on the court. Sometimes it's just hard."

The 24-year-old Bagnis, who had never defeated a Top 50 player prior to the match, sat on Court 1 even after all the spectators had departed, crying and talking on his phone.

Bagnis will next face in-form Latvian Ernests Gulbis, the No. 18 seed, who opened with a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-1 win over Poland's Lukasz Kubot. Gulbis had won the title two days ago in Nice (d. Delbonis).

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