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Rafael Nadal 'very happy' to be back at French Open as Roger Federer bid starts strong

Rafael Nadal ‘very happy’ to be back at French Open as Roger Federer bid starts strong (Image: GETTY)

Rafael Nadal began his bid to equal Roger Federer‘s record of Grand Slam titles with an efficient first round win over Egor Gerasimov at the French Open. But Serena Williams insisted neither man was the greatest of all time.

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The Spanish superstar skipped the US Open and played only one warm-up event at the Rome Masters, where he lost in the quarter-final.

It is the first time in his career that he has not won a clay-court title prior to Roland Garros.

And he had complained about the cold weather and the new Wilson balls before the start.

Yet his mission to win a 13th French Open title started with a comfortable 6-4 6-4 6-2 win over world No 83 Gerasimov where he converted all five of his break points.

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Rafael Nadal ‘very happy’ to be back at French Open as Roger Federer bid starts strong (Image: GETTY)

The Belarussian broke to lead 2-0 at the start of the third set but then needed a medical timeout after twisting his ankle on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

And Nadal responded by making three consecutive breaks to complete his 94th win at Roland-Garros in two hours and five minutes.

Defending champion Nadal said: “I am very happy to be back here on Court Philippe-Chatrier. It has been a very difficult for everyone.

“I would like to thank everyone here and I hope next year the situation will improve and more people can be back here.

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“I don’t want to make any mistakes with the attitude and the motivation. I am going to be here every day with the most postiive attitude.

“It is a different Roland-Garros to what we are used to. The meteorological conditions are very challenging but I will try my best and I am happy to be in the  second round.”

Nadal is one Grand Slam shy of matching long-time rival Federer, who is absent from this year’s French Open after knee surgery ended his 2020 early.

Earlier, Serena Williams beat fellow American Kristie Ahn 7-6 6-0 in her latest attempt to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.

Asked who the greatest male player of all time, she said: “I don’t get involved in the greatest talk.

“The greatest for me is and will always be Jesus, so I’m going to leave it at that.

“But I think Rafa, I’m obviously a huge fan of his. I always have been.

“But it’s like you can’t compare two people that are equally great. Roger, I mean, he’s Roger Federer. I think that says enough.”

Second seed Nadal will face American Mackenzie McDonald in the second round in Paris.

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Source:Daily Express :: Sport Feed


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