Defending champion Rafa Nadal started his Italian Open marketing campaign with an emphatic 6-3 6-1 victory over big-serving American John Isner to maneuver into the last-16 on Wednesday. Nadal, who returned from a rib damage this month and fell on the quarter-final hurdle in Madrid final week, dominated Isner who struggled to seek out solutions as soon as the Spaniard, searching for his eleventh title at Rome’s Foro Italico, hit his stride.
Isner leads the ATP Tour with over 450 aces in 2022 however Nadal negated the American’s booming serve by receiving from properly behind the baseline — even on his second serve — breaking 4 occasions and proscribing him to only one ace within the match.
The match went with serve within the opening set and Isner squandered two break factors at 3-3, earlier than Nadal stepped up his recreation and broke within the subsequent recreation after a lapse in focus from the towering American. “The beginning of the match was not good for me and even he had some chances on the return to break. I was in his hands at that moment,” Nadal mentioned in a post-match interview.
“Lucky that he missed those couple of shots. Then I was able to break and then the match changed.” The second set was no contest as Nadal broke within the opening recreation to set the tone and he didn’t look again as Isner ran out of fuel. Nadal will play Denis Shapovalov within the subsequent spherical, in opposition to whom he saved two match factors within the third spherical final 12 months en path to his tenth title.
“Last year was a joke, that match I saved here against him. I know how dangerous he is,” Nadal added. “I need to play well, of course, I need to play better than today. But it’s another victory and now tomorrow again a chance to play against one of the best players of the world.”