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,
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
"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
"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.