Top seed Rafael Nadal began his quest for a eighth Rome Masters title on Wednesday with a 7-6(1), 6-7(4), 6-2 performance against France’s Gilles Simon in the second round. At three hours and 19 minutes (3:18:38), it was the longest best-of-three-sets match of the season. Rafa improved to a stellar 42-2 mark at this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, with his only losses coming against Juan Carlos Ferrero in his 2008 opener and against Novak Djokovic in the 2011 final.
“The conditions were difficult, it was very cold and the ball didn’t bounce a lot. It was a tough moment in the second set, but this was the first match on clay where I had to suffer, mentally and physically. I was not playing bad and I am happy to have dealt with that kind of anxiety. I look forward to playing the third set because these are the matches that give me more satisfaction, the ones that test you very deeply. I did it and I am very happy,” said Rafa.
King of Clay goes on to face World No. 16 Mikhail Youzhny, whom he leads 10-4 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. Vamos Rafa!
Source: ATP World Tour / Photos: TennisTV, Getty Images, AP Photo, Reuters