Nadal escapes scare for hard-fought win at French Open

Posted Monday, May. 27, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Rafael Nadal hopped, spun and threw an overhand punch toward his friends and family, stirring memories of past celebrations on his favorite stage.

After more than 90 minutes of tense tennis, Nadal had finally won a set, leaving him only 20 sets from another French Open championship.

The Spaniard survived an early scare Monday and successfully began his bid for an eighth title at Roland Garros by rallying past Daniel Brands of Germany, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4, 6-3.

Nadal, who had lost only 14 sets in 53 previous matches at the French Open, fell behind when he was broken in the ninth game and was on the verge of digging a deeper hole in the red clay. He trailed 3-0 in the tiebreaker, then summoned his best shot-making to salvage the set and soon was in control against Brands.

“He was playing unbelievable,” Nadal said. “He was trying to hit every ball as hard as he can. Sometimes you feel you are not hitting a bad shot, and every time comes back a bomb. So I am very happy to be through, seriously.”

No struggling here

There was no such struggle for the tournament’s other defending champion, Maria Sharapova, who needed all of 54 minutes to overpower 42nd-ranked Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan 6-2, 6-1.

Or for 2011 women’s titlist Li Na, a 6-3, 6-4 winner against Anabel Medina Garrigues. Or for 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone, who also won in straight sets.

Or No. 4-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, last year’s runner-up at Wimbledon, who kept pace with her younger sister Urszula — producer of a three-set victory over Venus Williams a night earlier — by eliminating Shahar Peer 6-1, 6-1.

Oudin advances

Success on the Grand Slam stage, and everything that went with it, probably came too quickly for Melanie Oudin, a surprise quarterfinalist at the 2009 U.S. Open at age 17.

She realizes that now. She accepts it. And she’s excited to be part of a group of young American women who appear to be on the rise together.

Oudin reached the second round at the French Open by eliminating 28th-seeded Tamira Paszek of Austria 6-4, 6-3, part of a 6-1 showing by U.S. women on Day 2 of the clay-court tournament.

That means nine members of the country’s contingent have won their opening matches so far, with three more in action Tuesday.

Berdych surprised

French wild-card recipient Gael Monfils surprised No. 5 Tomas Berdych 7-6 (8), 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-7 (4), 7-5.

Berdych, the Wimbledon runner-up in 2010, has lost in the first round at a major event 10 times.

No respect for elders

Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, at 18 the youngest player in the men’s draw, made a successful Grand Slam debut by eliminating 34-year-old Radek Stepanek 7-6 (4), 7-6 (8), 7-6 (11).

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