The King Is Back On His Favorite Surface

Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome

[2] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. [18] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP)

In five previous meetings, Carreno Busta was only able to take one set from Nadal, and that was on hard court.  Today, it was another dominant performance from the king of clay against his compatriot.  Was it too quick a turn-around for Carreno Busta?  A recent semifinalist at the 2020 US Open, he was unable to mount any kind of resistance against Nadal.

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No Obvious Rust In Nadal’s Game

The last time Nadal played any professional tennis was the end of February and that was when he won the 2020 Acapulco title in dominant fashion over American, Taylor Fritz.  Everyone was curious as to how he would perform in his first tournament since. We never should have doubted the king of clay. Although the score of 6-1, 6-1 would suggest there was no rust, if we look a little closer, there was some rust as his first serve percentage was forty-nine percent; yet that was the only evidence.

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Carreno Busta Never Showed Up

He just was not there! There is simply no other way to explain the score line.  Carreno Busta had a high first serve percentage; however, it was ineffective. In every other statistic that mattered he was under fifty percent.  With only one opportunity to break his opponent and potential make it a competitive match, he wobbled.

The King Will Need To Serve Better

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Nadal will need a higher first serve percentage in the next round though.  Even though on clay he rarely depends on his first serve as a weapon, he will need to increase the percentage against his third-round opponent. Either guy, Milos Raonic or Dusan Lajovic, will not be intimidated by his serve.  Though the question to be answered as always is can they hang with Nadal on clay? The Spaniard will take the victory and knowing him, he is aware that he was not serving at his best today and will be better prepared for his next opponent.

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