Following an impressive start to his Rome campaign, Rafael Nadal will look to follow up on that momentum in his second match at this final Masters 1000 event before the French Open later this month. The Spaniard will next come up against American No. 1 John Isner, whom he has faced on five previous occasions. The Nadal v Isner head-to-head series stands at 5-0, including three clay court wins, one of which took place a few weeks ago in Monte Carlo.
Days after losing to Andy Murray in straight sets in the Madrid final, Rafael Nadal was back on court in Rome, where he stormed to victory in a little over an hour of court time. Given that his loss to Murray in straight sets was baffling to many, Nadal, who dropped to world No. 7 this week, needed to show that he was still a force to reckon with on clay. With that in mind, he breezed past Turkish qualifier Marsel Ilhan 6-2, 6-0 in one hour and 14 minutes. Nadal won 92 percent of his first service points and saved both break points he faced on serve to mercifully bring an end to the proceedings.
He will now come up against John Isner, who defeated Leonardo Mayer in straight sets to set up the third round encounter. Isner struck 11 aces, won 85% of his first service points and faced no break points on serve to close out the match in one hour and 34 minutes. It will be interesting to see if he can maintain that service dominance and consistency against Nadal on Thursday.
While Nadal is undefeated against Inser with a 5-0 head-to-head series record and a 3-0 record on clay, their most recent encounter in Monte Carlo was certainly a telling affair. Isner pushed Nadal to three sets and will likely force the Spaniard into a similar situation this week. Nadal will be feeling the pressure of trying to maintain his ranking within the Top eight and will need a solid showing on Thursday to help his Roland Garros chances.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in Three Sets