Rafael Nadal does not tolerate setbacks on clay.

Throughout his career, Nadal has never lost consecutive matches on his favorite surface and the Spaniard continued that streak on Wednesday by dispatching John Isner 6-3, 6-1 to advance to the third round of the Italian Open.

Nadal was coming off losing to Carlos Alcaraz, his 19-year-old compatriot, in the Madrid Open quarterfinals last week. Making his debut straight into the second round in Rome, Nadal improved to 44-0 in matches following a loss on clay.

More importantly, Nadal added to his confidence by getting back on track after a crack in one of his ribs prevented him from playing for six weeks before the Madrid tournament.

As much as he would like to add another title to his record haul of 10 Foro Italico titles, Nadal’s big goal is to get back to his best form ahead of the French Open, which starts in less than two weeks. Nadal has won 13 of his 21 Grand Slam titles at Roland Garros.

After his match was over, Nadal went straight to a practice court to continue rallying.

Nadal explained that “I’m in a bit of a hurry” to “find his best tennis as soon as possible.”

“I need to get things back that I lost because of the injury,” Nadal said. “Work as hard as I can to be ready in a couple of weeks.”

Nadal resolved his premiere with a blow.

With the match tied at 3-3 in the first set, Nadal netted a forehand and double-faulted to give Isner a couple of break chances. But Isner squandered both of his chances with unforced errors and Nadal defended his serve.

In the next game, Nadal broke Isner’s serve when the 2m giant volleyed into the net. Nadal proceeded to kill off the first set and broke Isner in the first game of the second.

The current number 4 in the world was irritated when asked about Alcaraz and if he considered that his compatriot plays better than Nadal who was 19 years old.

“I don’t know, man,” he said. “And I won’t be able to talk every day about who is going to be or who is stronger at that point. I don’t even know what I was like… It’s better to stop comparing him to me.

Nadal’s next rival will be Denis Shapovalov, the Canadian whom he beat in the same instance last year in three close sets, and with the Spaniard saving two match points.

“I was very lucky,” Nadal said of that duel against Shapovalov. “I don’t remember exactly, but it was almost a miracle.”

Second-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany, who was thrashed by Alcaraz in the Madrid final on Sunday, defeated Sebastián Báez 7-6 (6), 6-3 to end the Argentine’s eight-match winning streak. entered the main draw after drawing the qualifying round.

Another Argentine, Diego Schwartzman (seeded 12), said goodbye after losing 6-1, 7-6 (4) to American Marcos Girón.

Defending women’s champion Iga Swiatek extended her winning streak to 24 with a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Romania’s Elena-Gabriela Ruse.

Swiatek’s rival will now face Belarusian Victoria Azarenka, who beat Colombian Camila Osorio 6-2, 6-4.


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