Nadal in cruise control
Paris - Not only is Rafael Nadal playing like a dream, his self-confidence is also at a high and that makes him even more awe-inspiring at the French Open.
The second-seeded Spaniard, gunning for a record-breaking seventh title on the Paris clay, destroyed Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin 6-2, 6-2, 6-0 to reach the second round on Thursday.
Although he reckoned his first serve still needs some adjustments, Nadal, who has lost only once at Roland Garros since his debut in 2005, was happy on all accounts.
"I have improved during the third set. This is when I had the upper hand. I played my best tennis. I made almost no mistakes," Nadal, who jointly holds the record of six French Open titles with Swede Bjorn Borg, told a news conference.
"It was a dream type of third set. In general, I feel really good."
The muscular Spaniard tormented his 43rd-ranked opponent with his mix of power and accuracy to seal victory in less than two hours on Court Suzanne Lenglen, prevailing on his first match point with his 19th forehand winner.
Nothing to complain about, then, especially since Nadal, who has dropped only nine games in his first two matches and lost one match since his debut on the Paris clay in 2005, feels he also is a happier person.
"I said I felt better, but I was not saying my season's going to be better. I was saying that during practice and during the tournament my attitude is slightly more positive, and it's less difficult," he explained.
"Whereas last year, due to my attitude, which was less positive, it was more difficult for me. The rallies were longer, and I was not at home and I felt it was a bit long.
"This year I'm having fun, a lot of fun, I'm happy, and I'm not - how can I say? I'm not suffering from the fact that I'm far from home."
Nadal, however, hopes he will celebrate his 26th birthday in Paris for the seventh time in eight years, having always won the title after blowing out his candles at Roland Garros.
"It is difficult to celebrate a good birthday when you are in the middle of the tournament, but sure, I'm gonna go for dinner with the team," said Nadal, who will take on Argentine Eduardo Schwank for a place in the last 16.
"I don't know if some of my family are gonna come. I don't know yet. The important thing is I am in the third round and hopefully I can celebrate the birthday in Paris and not in Mallorca."
Latest results from the fifth day of the 2012 French Open at Roland Garros on Thursday (x denotes seeded player):
Rafael Nadal (ESP x2) bt Denis Istomin (UZB) 6-2, 6-2, 6-0
Andy Murray (GBR x4) bt Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x5) bt Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (GER) 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1
David Goffin (BEL) bt Arnaud Clement (FRA) 3-6, 7-6 (7/2), 0-6, 6-1, 6-1
David Ferrer (ESP x6) bt Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-3, 6-3, 6-2
Milos Raonic (CAN x19) bt Jesse Levine (USA) 6-4, 7-5, 6-2
Juan Monaco (ARG x13) bt Lukas Rosol (CZE) 7-6 (7/4), 6-0, 7-6 (7/5)
Santiago Giraldo (COL) bt Bernard Tomic (AUS x25) 6-4, 6-1, 6-3
Mikhail Youzhny (RUS x27) bt Robin Haase (NED) 6-3, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4
Nicolas Almagro (ESP x12) bt Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) 6-4, 6-3, 7-5
Fabio Fognini (ITA) bt Viktor Troicki (SRB x28) 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 8-6
Li Na (CHN x7) bt Stephanie Foretz Gacon (FRA) 6-0, 6-2
Petra Kvitova (CZE x4) bt Urszula Radwanska (POL) 6-1, 6-3
Klara Zakopalova (CZE) bt Maria Kirilenko (RUS x16) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS x22) bt Melinda Czink (HUN) 4-6, 6-3, 6-3
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN x9) bt Jarmila Gajdosova (AUS) 6-1, 6-4
Angelique Kerber (GER x10) bt Olga Govortsova (BLR) 6-3, 6-2
Nina Bratchikova (RUS) bt Claire Feuerstein (FRA) 3-6, 6-3, 7-5
Francesca Schiavone (ITA x14) bt Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) 2-6, 6-3, 6-1