Following an opening round victory in his 800th match, world No. 1 Rafael Nadal will now continue his campaign in the inaugural Rio Open against fellow countryman Albert Montanes. This marks the third time these two will meet on the professional circuit, with Nadal leading the head-to-head series 2-0.
The top-seeded Nada began his campaign on Tuesday night, when he defeated fellow Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver in straight sets to earn his first victory since the Australian Open semi-finals. The world No. 1 was in cruise control in the opening set, as he broke Gimeno-Traver to win it 6-3. The second set featured a slight blunder on Nadal’s part when he losing his opening game to fall 0-2, before breaking back in the third game.
“I’m happy to be back in competition,” said Nadal. “I had to face a player that’s been playing for several weeks on clay courts. I have to improve some details, but I played better than I practiced and that’s positive. “Latin America is very special for me, I feel like home. The people are great to me and it’s a pleasure to be back in Brazil. I hope I can come more often.”
Nadal improved to 10-0 on Brazilian soil with his victory in the first round in Rio. He will be looking to extend his undefeated streak further when he meets another Spaniard, Albert Montanes, in the second round.
World No. 72 Albert Montanes earned his first ATP World Tour victory of the season this week in Rio, when he upset Robin Haase 6-1, 7-6(4) to set up a second round encounter with Rafael Nadal. After losing in the opening round in Auckland, Melbourne and Buenos Aires, it was a significant win for the Spaniard, who is looking to climb up the ranks during the clay court season.
This marks the third time these two competitors have met on the ATP tour, with Nadal maintaining a perfect 2-0 lead in the series. They also met twice on the Challenger circuit, both of which Nadal won in straight sets. All four of those encounters took place on clay courts, so Nadal will be well adjusted to his opponent tomorrow. In both their professional meetings, Montanes has only managed to win seven games overall, and not a single set, signaling the world No. 1’s dominance on both the surface and in the rivalry.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in Straight Sets