Nadal Tested In Monte-Carlo Opener
Rafael Nadal opened with a stern test at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters on Wednesday at the start of his attempt to capture a 10th crown in the Principality. The fourth seed, who improved to 59-4 at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, did not have things his own way after a stunning first-set performance against Kyle Edmund in a 6-0, 5-7, 6-3 victory that lasted two hours and 19 minutes.
Nadal now goes on to meet #NextGenATP and No. 14 seed Alexander Zverev. The German leads the Emirates ATP Race To Milan for a spot at the 21-and-under #NextGenATP Finals from 7-11 November.
Many have been humbled on clay by Nadal, but Edmund continued to vary his game in an attempt to figure out a way into his first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting against the ‘King of Clay’. Nadal so often closed the door with deft flicks and incredible pace off his forehand in the opening set, and, in losing just three points on serve, it was the 10th bagel set that Nadal has dished out at the Monte-Carlo Country Club.
The capacity crowd cheered loudly when the 22-year-old Edmund held serve to 15 at the start of the second set. Fans continued to support the Briton as he moved from a 1-2 deficit to a 4-2 lead. Nadal regrouped at one of the three tournaments where he has won nine trophies (also the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell and at Roland Garros) to draw level before Edmund regained control of the baseline rallies and a secure footing. In continuing to press Nadal by advancing up the court, Edmund converted his first set point chance when Nadal shanked a backhand wide.
Hundreds of supporters without Court Rainier III tickets flocked to the big screens around the grounds to watch the match as the tension between the lines continued to build. In an extraordinary four-game spell, Nadal saved one break point at 1-2, then there were three straight service breaks, with Edmund giving Nadal a 4-3 advantage after one of his forehands found the net. Edmund continued to fight, but Nadal broke once again, pumping his first at the end when Edmund tamely netted a slice backhand.
It was the 400th match of Nadal’s illustrious career on red dirt (366-34), and he has the best winning percentage on the surface (.915) in the Open Era. He is now 20-5 on the season, which includes runner-up finishes at the Australian Open (l. to Federer), the Abierto Mexicano Telcel (l. to Querrey) and the Miami Open presented by Itau (l. to Federer).
Earlier in the day, this year’s Open Sud de France titlist Zverev defeated Nadal’s compatriot Feliciano Lopez 6-0, 6-4 in 60 minutes. Nadal leads Zverev 2-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, including a five-set victory at the Australian Open in January.