Tennis – Nadal will seek his first Paris Masters title next week.
The 22-time Major winner Rafael Nadal will seek his first Paris Masters title next week. The Spaniard will play his first tournament after the US Open, struggling with an abdominal injury since Wimbledon in July and hoping for a good run.
Nadal came to Paris early to prepare, hitting with Quentin Halys and David Goffin on Thursday. Rafa entered the central court on Friday for the first time in two years, practicing with the young American Sebastian Korda. The young gun has always mentioned Rafa with superlatives, calling him his idol and the best player ever.
Nadal and Korda met for the first time at the 2020 Roland Garros, and the Spaniard gave a signed shirt to his rival once they finished the encounter. Rafa beat Sebastian 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 in an hour and 55 minutes, controlling the pace on a windy day to advance into the last eight.
Nadal saved five out of six break chances and produced eight breaks from 11 opportunities, never losing focus despite some weak moments in tough conditions.
Rafael Nadal trained with Sebastian Korda in Paris.
Rafa saved two break points in the encounter’s first game and delivered breaks in games two and four to open a 5-0 gap after 28 minutes.
The American held at love in game six with a service winner to add his name to the scoreboard before the Spaniard closed the set a few minutes later. Rafa produced three comfortable holds in set number two and stole Sebastian’s serve three times for 6-1 and another step towards the finish line.
The youngster grabbed a break at the beginning of the third set with a backhand winner and opened a 2-0 gap, feeling the ball in those moments and hoping to keep that pace. Shifting into a higher gear, Rafa rattled off the next six games to race over the top, sealing the deal with a return winner at 5-2 to remain on the title course.
Their second duel came at this year’s Indian Wells, and the youngster gave his idol a run for his money. Nadal prevailed 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 victory in two hours and 29 minutes, overcoming a massive deficit to avoid an early exit.
Korda served for the triumph twice in the final set but could not produce his best tennis when it mattered the most. He made too many errors and allowed Nadal to seal the deal in the tie break and move on. Rafa saved seven out of 11 break chances and converted four out of six break points.
The more experienced player overcame a challenging period in sets two and three to remain perfect in 2022. Nadal made an ideal start and claimed the opening set before Korda raised his level to show his arsenal in set number two.
The American claimed it 6-1 and forged a massive 5-2 advantage in the decider. Serving twice to beat his idol, Sebastian started spraying errors and failed to create match points, allowing Rafa to level the score at 5-5. With a boost on his side, the Spaniard claimed five straight points in the tie break and produced another impressive in the season’s first part.