Following a stellar start to his clay court campaign, Rafael Nadal is through to the second round of the Rio Open. The Spaniard will continue his run against Pablo Carreno Busta, whom he has never faced previously on the professional tour.
The world No. 3 began his run on Tuesday, when he faced Thomaz Bellucci and defeated his Brazilian adversary in straight sets. It was a straightforward victory – he struck 13 winners to close out the match 6-4, 6-1 in 91 minutes. While it was not his best victory, there were several enjoyable rallies during the encounter that left viewers with high hopes for the remainder of his run this week. He appeared pleased with his performance, given that he is yet to return to full form.
“I think I played well,” said Nadal. “Keeping in mind that it was a long time since I last played on clay. I played not looking to complicate things, because I knew it was not the day to do so. I tried not to make big mistakes.”
Pablo Carreno Busta kicked off his campaign in Rio with a three-set victory over Carlos Berlocq. He needed two hours and 27 minutes to earn the 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-0. He ran away with the match in the final set, but overall, he managed 72% of his first service points, and saved all three of the break points he faced in the entire match.
This is the first meeting between Rafael Nadal and Pablo Carreno Busta, and will likely be a straightforward contest. The Spaniard has looked good so far in his first match on clay and will only loosen up with more court time. It has been a while since his last clay court run, so his current performances following a plague of injuries is extremely promising for the anticipated run towards the French Open.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in Straight Sets