Rafael Nadal crushes Guido Pella at French Open

The Spaniard cruised into the third round while Kyle Edmund also advanced in Paris

Spain’s Rafael Nadal plays a return between his legs to Argentina’s Guido Pella during their men’s singles second round match on day five of the Roland Garros 2018 French Open. Photo: Eric Feferberg/Getty Images

Spain’s Rafael Nadal plays a return between his legs to Argentina’s Guido Pella during their men’s singles second round match on day five of the Roland Garros 2018 French Open. Photo: Eric Feferberg/Getty Images

 

Great players have gears and Rafael Nadal is idling as he edges towards an 11th title at the French Open with the understated conviction of a man who respects his rivals but knows his destiny.

On Thursday, he did to the world No 78 Guido Pella in an hour and a half on Court Suzanne Lenglen what it took him twice as long to do to the tricky Simone Bolelli on the main stage on Tuesday.

Nadal loves playing fellow left-handers, having won against them 29 times in majors, and was untroubled winning 6-2, 6-1, 6-1. His next challenge is, well, not quite that: Richard Gasquet has tried 15 times to beat the Spaniard, coming unstuck each time.

The Frenchman, still idolised in France years after being hailed as their next tennis hero, beat the Tunisian Malek Jaziri 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 in two hours and 26 minutes. “When I was 25 I felt when I’m 32 I will not feel so much stress,” he said. “Well, it’s not true. You always want to play. You always want to do your best.”

Even his best may not be good enough to extend Nadal in his current form, although he oozed respect when talking about Gasquet, who has been a contemporary and rival since their teenage days.

“It will be a good match against a good friend in the most important place in my career, and for him a very special place, too,” he said. “I have a great relationship with him, since we were kids. We met for the first time when we were 12. He’s a very good person, a normal guy. We practised hundreds of times together. He always has a positive attitude.”

In another all-leftie match, the exciting young Canadian, Denis Shapovalov fell to Germany’s world No 70 Maximilian Marterer, who ground out a 5-7, 7-6 (4), 7-5, 6-4 win in three hours and 11 minutes in the Bullring. He plays Jürgen Zopp, who had a similarly tough battle beating fellow lucky loser, Ruben Bemelmans, in a raucous affair on Court No 6, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in three hours and 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, Kyle Edmund is the last British player standing for the third grand slam running.

The British number one made it through to the third round with a four-set win over Hungarian Marton Fucsovics.

After Johanna Konta departed on Sunday, Heather Watson fell by the wayside on Thursday morning before Cameron Norrie’s run came to an end at the hands of Lucas Pouille.

It leaves Edmund flying the flag on his own in the singles heading into a last-32 clash with Italy’s Fabio Fognini. – Guardian service

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