Rafael Nadal is through to the second round of Roland Garros after winning his 101st match at the tournament defeating Alexei Popyrin in three straight sets.
It marks the first day of the Spaniards campaign to claim a 14th Roland Garros title, and he won the first two sets comfortably before being broken in the third set.
Popyrin just had to serve for the third set while 5-3 up but his nerve didn’t hold, allowing the Spaniard to break back and take it to a tie-break, eventually winning 6-3, 6-2, 7-6.
It is not only the 101st match for the 20-time Grand Slam champion but his 26th consecutive set at Roland Garros, however, speaking after the game, Nadal said he felt lucky to win the first set against a strong, pacey opponent.
“The beginning of the match was pretty tough, he was playing bombs all the time, his serve was huge, and under these warm and fast conditions it was always difficult,” said Nadal.
“He is young and the speed of his ball in just incredible, he’s fast running and when he hits the ball he goes for the highest strength possible.
“I don’t know how I won that first set, but I found a way and I’m super happy.
“It wasn’t an easy match against Popyrin who is a dangerous player, but I’m pretty happy with the way I played today.”
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