Rafael Nadal is safely through to the third round of the Italian Open after beating John Isner 6-3 6-1.
After Isner squandered the opportunity to break midway in the seventh game, Nadal took control of the match and was able to comfortably breeze past the American in one hour and 16 minutes.
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“I finished better than I started [against Isner] without a doubt,” the 21-time Grand Slam singles champion said afterwards in his on-court interview.
“At the beginning of the match I think I was not good for me. Even he had some chances on the return. Two break points and two not difficult balls.
“I was in his hands at that moment. Lucky he missed those couple of shots then I was able to hold the break.
“The match then changed with the first set in the pocket and with the first break of the second everything changed.”
On his match against Shapovalov, he said: “Last year [in Rome] was a joke. The match I saved against him I was super lucky. I know how dangerous he is and I need to play better than today.
“After a while without being on court it’s another victory. Now tomorrow is a chance to play against one of the best players in the world and another good test.
“I need to build again the things after a tough stop. That is what I am trying. To stay with the right attitude. Let’s see if I am able to make it happen.”
It was a closely-fought opening to the match and the first break point opportunities of the match arrived for Isner at 3-3, but Nadal was able to rescue both of them and it proved a turning point in the match.
There was more misfortune to come for Isner as Nadal sealed the pivotal break in the very next game after Isner hit a limp volley, which should have been a winner, into the net.
Nadal then reeled off four points in a row on his serve to wrap up the opener in 43 minutes.
With Isner looking flat, Nadal went a break up immediately in the second set when the American produced another unforced error to put the Spaniard in control.
Nadal had only hit one unforced error in the second set before going a double break up to make it 4-1 when Isner fired another forehand into the net. Nadal won the next two games, sealing the match with a vicious forehand winner down the line.
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