Nadal steamrolls to opening win as Nishikori ousted - GulfToday

Nadal steamrolls to opening win as Nishikori ousted

Nadal

Rafael Nadal in action against Roberto Bautista Agut during their Monte Carlo match on Wednesday. Reuters

Rafael Nadal charged out of the blocks on Wednesday to hammer Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1, 6-1 in his opening match at the Monte Carlo Masters.

The 11-time champion showed no sign of the knee problems which forced him to quit ahead of an Indian Wells semi-final against Roger Federer a month ago.

The 32-year-old had expressed pre-tournament caution regarding the health of his knee -- a worry which appeared to be groundless after a 76-minute masterclass.

“I’m happy for this very positive start. I had good feelings on court,” he said.

Nadal collected the opening five games of the afternoon in 17 minutes as he set the tone for another dominant display in the principality.

He was equally in control during the second set, where he saved three break points in the fourth game and two more in the sixth.

Bautista Agut has now lost to his Spanish countryman in all three of their meetings, while Nadal improved his incredible record here to 69-4 as he takes aim at a fourth consecutive title at the event.

Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem, who lost to Nadal in Paris last June, beat Slovakia’s Martin Klizan 6-1, 6-4.

Thiem, who won the Indian Wells title over Federer, made a successful switch to his favourite surface as he prepares for the pre-French Open sequence of events.

Fourth seed Thiem won with a break in the final game after Klizan held a 40-0 lead. Alexander Zverev rediscovered traces of his best form with a 6-1, 6-4 defeat of Canadian teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime.

The German, locally based, reached the third round as he tamed the 18-year-old who broke through for a Miami semi-final last month.

The 21-year-old Zverev played the semi-finals in Monte Carlo a year ago but has yet to hit his stride this season.

That may be starting to change.

Zverev swept the opening set in 30 minutes but had to get through a series of three straight breaks of serve between him and his opponent before finally advancing in 78 minutes.

The third seed will next face Italy’s Fabio Fognini, who reached the third round when French opponent Gilles Simon withdrew because of back problems.

Agencies

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