This time Rafael Nadal has “given up” four games. After defeating Carreno Busta (6-1, 6-1) for his return to competition, the Spaniard disgusted Serbian Dusan Lajovic in two short heats (6-1, 6-3) during the Masters 1000 in Rome. The Mallorcan qualifies without any problem in the quarter-finals, where he will meet Diego Schwartzman.
The pattern has been seen dozens of times on clay: an opponent who resists during the first points, even the first games, suggesting a possible arm wrestling. Then the Rafael Nadal steamroller which suddenly starts up and leaves nothing but crumbs. As against Carreno Busta, the Spaniard indeed struggled early in the game, conceding his commitment after making the entry break. But the suspense came to an end. The Mallorcan, faithful to his habits, quickly gained the ascendancy in the exchange by imposing enormous pressure on the return.
However, Dusan Lajovic has some good references on earth. The Serbian had reached the final of the Monte-Carlo tournament last year (defeat against Fabio Fognini). But like so many others, the 25th world has never been able to find the key to the “Rafa” problem, suffocated by the heaviness of the opposing ball.
Some slag but nothing to worry about
Certainly, there is still some slag in the game of the Spaniard. As evidenced by this small air hole in the second set, which allowed Lajovic, more aggressive, to register three games in a row. As evidenced by some very rounded trajectories of Mallorcan balls from the baseline. But nothing very worrying a priori, especially for a player who had not tasted the coemption for six months, who seems in good shape physically and who closed the case in two dry sets (6-1, 6-3 ) and 1h30 of game.
In the next round, the world n ° 2 will have an appointment with Diego Schwartzman. The Argentinian, who knocked down Hubert Hurkacz earlier in the evening, is also a real customer on ocher. He had also led a set zero – a break last year at Roland Garros against the Spaniard, before seeing a cut due to the rain cut him off in his tracks. This time it is not just the start of the match that could prove difficult for “Rafa”.