Rafael Nadal gets off to a delayed winning start at French Open

The Spaniard’s match was delayed last night due to rain but he got the job done eventually

Spain’s Rafael Nadal plays a backhand return to Italy’s Simone Bolelli during their men’s singles first round match on day three of the Roland Garros 2018 French Open in Paris. Photo: Christophe Simon/Getty Images

Spain’s Rafael Nadal plays a backhand return to Italy’s Simone Bolelli during their men’s singles first round match on day three of the Roland Garros 2018 French Open in Paris. Photo: Christophe Simon/Getty Images

 

Rafael Nadal admitted he may have taken it a little too easy as he began his bid for an 11th French Open title.

Nadal’s latest Roland Garros campaign is up and running after a straight-sets — but far from straightforward — win over Simone Bolelli.

The Spaniard — top seed, world number one, reigning champion and red-hot favourite for another Paris crown — had to return on Tuesday morning to finish his first-round clash against the lucky loser from Italy.

Nadal had taken the first two sets in typically ominous style but then trailed 3-0 in the third when the rain came.

Nadal broke straight back on the resumption but Bolelli did not let him have things his own way, threatening another break at 4-3.

Bolelli then forced four set points in a marathon tie-break but the 16-time grand slam winner got over the line 6-4 6-3 7-6 (11/9).

“It was a good match. It was a difficult match, because he played so aggressive and very well,” said Nadal.

“I resisted, you know, it’s always difficult to play against players that want to hit every ball so hard, and even more if it’s the first round.

“He played well, so well, playing with lots of risk but having success with all of the risk that he took.

“Yeah, I played a match that I have to play more aggressively, I know. But it was difficult to play so aggressive being in the first round and against a player who really came on court and decided to play that strong.”

Third seed Marin Cilic made short work of his first-round match, going through in straight sets against Australian James Duckworth.

The Croatian, runner-up at the Australian Open in January, shrugged off a 45-minute rain delay to run out a 6-3 7-5 7-6 (7/4) winner.

Fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro dropped the first set against Nicolas Mahut of France but recovered to go through 1-6 6-1 6-2 6-4.

South African Kevin Anderson, seeded sixth, was another comfortable winner as he swept past Italian Paolo Lorenzi 6-1 6-2 6-4.

But American Jack Sock was a surprise casualty, the 14th seed bowing out in five sets to Estonian lucky loser Jurgen Zopp.

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