ATP Tour

Nadal back to winning ways

2015-05-13 17:12
Rafael Nadal (AFP)

Rome - Seven-time winner Rafael Nadal began his clay-court recovery process after his weekend Madrid final loss, hammering out a 6-2, 6-0 defeat of Turk Marsel Ilhan to start his Rome Masters campaign on Wednesday.

The Spaniard, who is defending his title and trying to get his game back to its brilliant best after failing to win a spring European clay title so far, spent little more than an hour in reaching the third round at the Foro Italico.

The Spaniard is reeling from his Madrid thrashing by Andy Murray, who advanced in his Rome opening match over Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 6-3.

Nadal, despite his poor season, starts mentally fresh each week as he and his team try to polish his game with Roland Garros starting on May 24.

"I'm happy playing tennis, even if I've not been very consistent since the start of season. Playing a Masters 1000 final (Madrid) is not a bad result for me.

"I'm not winning as much as I once did, but my life and career have been fantastic. Last year I won Roland Garros (for a record ninth time) but I'm not thinking about that today."

Nadal is playing Rome for the 11th consecutive year and has featured in nine finals form 10 visits.

This season (16-4 on clay) is the first in which he has lost more than three matches on clay since 2003 when he began on the ATP.

Murray, the third seed, has now won 10 straight clay matches thanks to his titles in Munich and Madrid, the first two of his career on clay.

"My legs were a bit tired at the start but they started to feel better after a few games," said Murray of his second-round win over Chardy. "I played a good match.

"I hung in, moved well and didn't give him loads of opportunities. I served well throughout the match. I'm happy with how I adjusted to conditions, I made it difficult for him to win free points."

Fifth seed Kei Nishikori advanced as he easily dispatched Czech Jiri Vesely 7-6 (7-3), 7-5 while American 16th seed John Isner piled on 11 aces in a 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 defeat of Leonardo Mayer.

Women's second seed Simona Halep earned a win a week after falling out in the Madrid opening round, due in part to back problems.

But those were a thing of the past in the Romanian's win over Alison Riske 6-3, 6-0.

"I feel good and I have no pain anymore, just a little bit of contraction in the back muscle. I can run, I can play, I can do everything," said the 2014 French Open finalist.

Russian Daria Gavrilova beat seventh seed Ana Ivanovic 5-7, 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (9-7) while Bojana Jovanovski beat 15th seed Madison Keys 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.

Read more on:    atp tour  |  rome masters  |  rafael nadal  |  tennis

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