You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Imperious Nadal chasing French Open decima

dpa logodpa 29/05/2017

Rafael Nadal responded to his billing by French Open tournament director Guy Forget as the greatest claycourter in history by brushing aside Benoit Paire.

Rafael Nadal took the first step toward an unprecedented 10th French Open title with a comfortable win over Frenchman Benoit Paire.

Nadal was imperious as he steamed through the first set in under half an hour on Court Suzanne Lenglen, wrapping up the match 6-1 6-4 6-1 to improve his record at Roland Garros to 73-2.

Should he achieve his dream of a "decima" the 30-year-old would become the first man to win 10 titles at any single grand slam event.

France's Paire, who has a career-high ranking of 18, lost in the opening round in Paris for the first time since 2011.

"I'm happy for the victory. Was not an easy opponent in the first round, obviously," Nadal said.

"He's an uncomfortable opponent that already he had some good victories this year. I came on court with a lot of respect."

Trading baseline rallies in the second set, the duo exchanged breaks to leave Paire leading 4-3. He had two break points in the following game that he failed to covert, the moment at which he indicated the momentum shifted.

"I got two balls, one when I missed my return, and then if it was 5-3 I thought I could finish the set and perhaps I could kind of liberate myself," Paire told a news conference.

" ...(So) it's a bit frustrating to end a game like that."

Channelling the confidence built up during a 17-match winning streak in taking claycourt titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid, Nadal then pulled clear as Paire suffered a reaction to taking energy tablets.

The Spaniard won nine of the last 10 games to close out the match in just under two hours.

"I've got focus on my game, focus on my shot. I know how to do this really," Nadal said.

"The match I played was good. I'm happy, and for a first round, I'm very happy."

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon