From the news

Rafael Nadal demolishes Robin Haase in French Open

  • ontennis
  • 31 May 2017
  • 06:05

Rafael Nadal looked in ominous form as he dispatched Robin Haase 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 and moved into the third round of the French Open.

The nine-time Roland Garros champion hit 33 winners, just 13 unforced errors and did not face a single break point on his serve.

Haase is a tricky opponent who plays attacking tennis, and the 30-year-old Dutchman took Nadal to five sets at Wimbledon in 2010. But such a scare never looked likely at the Spaniard’s home from home at Roland Garros.

This was the Nadal’s first appearance on Philippe Chatrier this year, after he was banished to Suzanne Lenglen for his first-round defeat of Benoit Paire.

And the king of clay looked pleased to be back in his throne room. He has only ever dropped one set in the second round of Roland Garros, to Martin Klizan in 2013, and he is once again into the third round without expending much energy.

The 30-year-old has had an impressive resurgence this year, losing to Roger Federer in the Australian Open final and winning three clay-court tournaments in a row. He is now 17-1 on his favoured surface this season.

He is heavy favourite to win an unprecedented 10th French Open and this display will have done nothing to dampen those hopes.

After his opening match against Paire, Nadal challenged himself to improve on his serve in the next round. He certainly delivered on that homework assignment, landing 70 per cent of first serves and only dropping 13 points on his own serve in the match.

The 14-time Grand Slam champion has historically lacked variety on his serve, relying on the left hander’s angle to slice the ball towards the opponent’s backhand.

But this season, having added Carlos Moya to his team, he has added a lot more variety and looks all the more dangerous for it.

The other shot that he has worked on – and that looked mighty impressive here – is his double-handed backhand. He made only three unforced errors on that side against Haase, and when opponents are getting no joy from his backhand and scared stiff of hitting to his awesome forehand, there simply have nowhere to hide.

The world No 46 rallied after the first set disappeared in half an hour, but he never looked likely to make a match of it, despite the urgings of the crowd.

Nadal plays Georgian world No 63 Nikoloz Basilashvili in the last 32.

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