Nadal Books Almagro Showdown In Rio
Top seed sees off youngest compatriot in the Top 100
Top seed and 2014 champion Rafael Nadal launched his Rio Open campaign with victory over countryman Pablo Carreno Busta in a rain-interrupted 6-1, 6-4 match. The former World No. 1 landed five of seven break point opportunities on Tuesday night to book a second-round showdown with another of his compatriots, Nicolas Almagro.
Nadal carries a 13-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Almagro. Carreno Busta, the youngest of 14 Spaniards in the Top 100, was looking for his first win over a Top 10 opponent. Against Nadal, he would have to win for the first time in three encounters. And he did not make the start he had hoped for, being broken to love for 2-0 on Quadra Guga Kuerten.
Nadal secured a second break for 5-1 and served out the opening set 6-1 on his second set point before rain suspended the match. At the resumption of play, Nadal secured the early break for 2-1, the first of five consecutive breaks between the pair, before serving it out 6-4 after one hour and 22 minutes.
"I think I played a fantastic first set," said Nadal. "Then in the second, the conditions were so heavy. It was so difficult to serve, so there were a lot of breaks. I was able to survive there. It's important not to get frustrated in that moment, when you have the advantage and then he breaks you back. I stayed calm. I had more chances to break again. It's a very good victory for me and I'm very happy."
Looking ahead to the clash with Almagro, who was a finalist in Buenos Aires last week, Nadal said, "Almagro is a very difficult opponent on every surface, but especially on clay, which is his best surface. I know it's going to be a difficult match. I will need to play at a high level to have chances. I will try."