Thursday, May 28, 2009

Nadal made to work, Federer impressive

Pretty in pink

Rafael Nadal was forced to up his game before overcoming brave Brazilian Marcos Daniel 7-5 6-4 6-3, while Roger Federer was never troubled by Alberto Martin and secured safe passage to the second round with a 6-4 6-3 6-2 win.

Significantly, Nadal notched up his 29th straight victory at Roland Garros (where he has never been defeated) to best Bjorn Borg’s record number of consecutive victories at the French Open which dated back to the 1978-81 seasons.

Dressed to kill, Rafael Nadal emerged onto Centre Court for his first round match wearing a bright pink shirt with yellow wristbands and bandana, but the world No1’s opponent, Brazilian qualifier Marcos Daniel, was determined not to go down without a fight though, and the Spaniard had to dig deep to force the issue at crucial points.

30-year-old Daniel can look back with much pride on a match in which he broke Nadal’s serve on three occasions and was far from outclassed throughout. The player ranked 97 enjoyed his time on the big stage, pushing his prestigious opponent onto the back foot on numerous occasions.

Sluggish start

Nadal took time to get going and never looked as comfortable as he normally does here in Paris. In the muggy heat, he was less mobile and more error-prone than usual. But class will out, and the four-time champion was able to find the array of shots needed, notably to see out the first set after being broken back to 5-5 and then come back from a 3-1 deficit in the second set. Daniel had a last chance to get back into the match when he broke back to 4-5 in the third set and led 40-0, only for Nadal to ruthlessly take the next five points to seal his victory.

Roger Federer meanwhile had no trouble dispatching Alberto Martin. As is so often the case in the early rounds of Grand Slam tournaments, the Swiss world No2 eased through the gears, effortlessly raising his game to frustrate the attempts of a valiant opponent to knock him off his guard.

2-0 down in the first set, Federer broke straight back and after games went to serve broke Martin to love at 5-4. The second and third sets saw Federer increasingly take control, and without ever needing to stretch himself, he clinched a 6-4 6-3 6-2 win in 1 hour 43 minutes.

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