Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / Sports / Tennis

Nadal wants to lose fear factor after winning Rome opener

Updated: 2024-05-10 09:48
Share - WeChat
Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates winning his round of 128 match against Belgium's Zizou Bergs at the Italian Open in Foro Italico, Rome, Italy May 9, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

ROME - Rafael Nadal said that he can no longer afford to fear injury after battling into the second round of the Rome Open on Thursday, with Roland Garros looming on the horizon.

Clay court icon Nadal bounced back from a set down to beat qualifier Zizou Bergs 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the Italian capital with a gritty performance which will need to be improved upon when the Spaniard faces his next opponent, world number nine Hubert Hurkacz.

Should he progress further Nadal also has last year's winner, world number four Daniil Medvedev, and the beaten finalist Holger Rune on his side of the draw.

The 37-year-old took nearly three hours to see off Belgian Bergs as he continued his comeback and bid to play at Roland Garros, most likely for the last time.

Nadal has in recent times been a shadow of the player who has won 22 Grand Slams in a storied career which has also brought a record 10 titles in Rome, being battered by injuries and dropping down to 305 in the world rankings after missing almost all of last year.

"I have Roland Garros in just two weeks and a half... I need to prove myself if I am able to push my body to the limit, I need to push to feel myself ready for what's coming," Nadal told reporters.

"I am not talking only about Roland Garros. I am talking about the next match. I need to lose this fear. Matches like today help.

"Some moments I was moving faster. Some moments not. I need to get used to that, to take that risk... I feel more ready to try it than before."

Nadal has said that he will only play at the French Open, where he has won 14 times, if he feels competitive and although he showed glimpses of his old self against 108th-ranked Bergs he struggled on his serve and looked a long way from Grand Slam standard.

Outsider Bergs, 24, is an eight-time title winner on the Challenger tour and had in previous tournaments taken sets off high-profile players like Stefanos Tsitsipas and Rune.

The hard-hitting Belgian pushed his big-name rival all the way, briefly looking like he might win the biggest match of his career to date before Nadal fought back to take victory.

Osaka eases through

Naomi Osaka continued her winning return to Rome by seeing off Marta Kostyuk in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2 to set up a third-round clash with 10th-seed Daria Kasatkina.

Japan's Osaka beat Russian Kasatkina in the pair's only other meeting, when Osaka won the 2018 Indian Wells final.

Osaka breezed past Kostyuk to claim her first ever win over a top 20-ranked opponent on clay, a day after she made her Foro Italico comeback after a three-year absence.

Osaka is ranked at 173 in the world after taking a break from the tour to have her first child but looked a class above Kostyuk, winning the rain-interrupted match in 71 minutes.

"I just feel like, I don't know, no matter what happens on the court, nothing will change for me off the court. Like, my daughter will still love me," Osaka told reporters.

"I think maybe that showed today. I hope that mentality stays and continues."

Top seed Iga Swiatek breezed into the third round with a rapid 6-0, 6-2 win against American Bernarda Pera.

Swiatek of Poland was imperious on court and needed just over one hour, 15 minutes to dispatch her opponent as she showed why she is the woman to beat on the WTA tour.

The three-time Roland Garros champion is looking to match that number of victories on the Roman clay and comes into the event having just won the Madrid Open last weekend.

World number three Coco Gauff kicked off her tournament with a straightforward 6-3, 6-3 win over Magdalena Frech, dominating her Polish opponent to set up a third-round tie with Jaqueline Cristian.



Most Popular


What's Hot
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349