PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal defeats Gilles Simon to reach third round in Rome

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

11 comments

  1. You proved to be equal to the love and trust of your supporters and fans.you played fantastic tennis. Vamos great Rafa!

  2. It was a tough much but i think you played really well. High intensity thats missing in Monte Carlo and Barcelona. After more than 10 yrs these players believe they can now beat you. But you go show them, Champ! Vamos Rafa, lets take out Youzhny!

  3. That match against Simon was a real nail-biter. Even Rafa’s parents looked concerned
    in the bleachers. The third set was “magical” when Rafa fought back and finally held
    servie twice to win. When watching I realized how difficult it must be to play when you
    are the #1 player. You always have to strive for excellence and defend points. The opponent has nothing to lose and can sometimes play more freely. Simon is a great
    counter-puncher but Rafa found his rhythm and consistency. That wasn’t due to luck, but skill and determination. I loved this challenging match because Rafa was again tested and passed with flying colors! Good luck tomorrow against Younzny.

  4. Was a battle today,Rafa is finding his game and i hope he can improve with his forehands more, Simon really played his heart out today it was a toe to toe match but Rafa found his way to win and so happy for him!

  5. +YOU WERE THECHAMPION TONIGHT RAFA. SO PROUD OF YOU. THE BEST OF LUCK AND GOOD FEELIGS ON COURT TOMORROW. AND YES, GOD BLESS YOU MORE. LOVE, MARYLYNN

  6. Rafa, your resilience is incredible…..your competitors have got new strategies and believe, repeat, believe they can beat you….you’re the PANTHER of Tennis and must continue to be one step ahead, always…..Go Panther go, run with the Sun!!!!

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