An all-Spanish match-up is scheduled to take place Thursday afternoon, as nine-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal and Nicolas Almagro meet for a spot in the third round at Roland Garros. This is a particularly intriguing match-up, as Nadal lost to Almagro for the first time in his career last season on clay. Nadal leads Almagro in the head to head series 12-1.
In typical fashion at his favourite event, Rafael Nadal began his Roland Garros campaign on Monday afternoon with a straight sets win against wildcard Quentin Halys 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 50 minutes.
“When I had the chance to play normal points, I think I changed [rallies with] good directions with my forehand [and] very good forehands down the line,” said Nadal. “After the first three games, when I started a little bit slow, then I start moving the ball better. I am happy with the way that I played. It is the first match and I played well enough. I think my forehand worked well for a lot of moments.”
Nadal will next come up against Nicolas Almagro, who needed four sets to defeat Alexandr Dolgopolov. The Spaniard won the match 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(6). He will now attempt to deny Nadal a tenth title at the French Open when they meet in the second round.
This marks the 14th time these two competitors will clash on the ATP World Tour, with Nadal holding a solid 12-1 record against Almagro. The record includes an 8-1 clay court record, including ones in Barcelona and Acapulco in 2013. However, Almagro shocked the tennis community last season when he rallied from a set down to beat Nadal in the decider of the Barcelona quarter-final. Even though Nadal avenged that loss this season in Barcelona, he will have to repeat that feat again on Thursday.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in Straight Sets