Rafael Nadal‘s peaceful first week at the French Open continues on Sunday as the defending champion takes on Juan Ignacio Londero for a spot in the quarter finals. Londero is taking part in his first grand slam and has an impressive fourth round placing and a match on Philippe Chatrier to show for it.
Londero had been present at clay Challenger Tour events for a long time, picking up several titles in 2018. With nothing but clay matches on his record the past 12 months, it would be fair to say this is his favourite surface. Winning the Cordoba event as a wildcard has proven a major boost to Londero, who can now make tour events and grand slam main draws regularly. He will be inside the top 60, a career high, after beating Corentin Moutet in the previous round. He was impressive against a vocal home crowd and dealt well with the nerves to serve out in the deciding game of his 2-6 6-3 6-4 5-7 6-4 win, backing up earlier victories against Nikoloz Basilashvili and Richard Gasquet.
Nadal finally dropped a set in round three, something he rarely does in the early rounds of Roland Garros. The one bad service game in his 6-1 6-3 4-6 6-3 victory was of little importance in the grand scheme of things as he moved on to the next round after just under three hours on court. In the first set I played unbelievable, I think, so, so good. Then a good second set, too. In the fourth [set], of course I had to fight again, and I think I became a little bit more aggressive again, and that was, at the end, the key.” he said on his performance.
“He (Londero) plays very well right now, I think it’s going to be a very difficult match, demanding, but I’m prepared to fight at a very high level.” said Nadal. It will be a huge moment for the Argentinian to test his skills against a great like Nadal but it’s still more likely to be a lesson for him than a competitive match. Benoit Paire or Kei Nishikori await in the next round.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in straight sets