Rafael Nadal moves past John Isner to set up ‘dangerous’ rematch against Denis Shapovalov at Italian Open in Rome
Rafael Nadal advanced to the third round of the Italian Open after beating John Isner 6-3 6-1.
After Isner squandered the opportunity for a break midway through game seven, Nadal took control of the game and was able to comfortably slip past the American in an hour and 16 minutes.
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“I finished better than I started [against Isner] without a doubt,” said the 21-time Grand Slam singles champion during his on-court interview.
“At the start of the match, I think I was not good for myself. Even he had chances on the return. Two break points and two easy balls.
“I was in his hands at the time. Luckily he missed those few shots and then I was able to hold the break.
“The game then changed with the first set in the pocket and with the first break of the second everything changed.”
During his match against Shapovalov, he said: “Last year [in Rome] was a joke. The match I saved against him, I was very lucky. I know how dangerous he is and I have to play better than today.
“After a while without being on the pitch, it’s another win. Now tomorrow is a chance to play against one of the best players in the world and another good test.
“I have to rebuild things after a difficult pit stop. That’s what I’m trying to do. Stay with the right attitude. Let’s see if I’m able to do that.”
It was a hard fought opener and the first break point chances of the game came for Isner at 3-3 but Nadal was able to save them both and it proved a turning point in the match.
There was more doom to come for Isner as Nadal sealed the decisive break in the very next game after Isner hit a soft volley, which should have been the winner, into the net.
Nadal then collected four points in a row on his serve to wrap up the opener in 43 minutes.
As Isner looked flat, Nadal took an immediate break in the second set when the American made another unforced error to give the Spaniard control.
Nadal had committed just one unforced error in the second set before taking a double break to make it 4-1 when Isner fired another forehand into the net. Nadal won the next two games, sealing the game with a vicious forehand winner down the line.
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