‘Perfect start’ for Nadal on his return


The World No. 2 sweeps aside Carreno Busta to reach third round.

In his first match in over six months, Rafael Nadal swept aside fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta on Wednesday to reach the third round of the Italian Open.

The nine-time Rome winner came through 6-1, 6-1 against 18th-ranked Carreno Busta, a recent semifinalist at the US Open.

“It was a perfect start for me. It was solid, good shots on the forehand and backhand. I didn’t expect to play that well,” Nadal said.

“Maybe Pablo was a little bit tired from a great tournament there in New York, but thinking about myself, I played a very solid match and very serious and doing a lot of things very well. So very happy.”

The World No. 2 has not played since winning in Acapulco at the end of February, opting to skip the US hard court tour because of coronavirus concerns.

The 34-year-old will next play either Canadian Milos Raonic or Serb Dusan Lajovic for a place in the quarterfinals.

Nadal, a 12-time French Open winner, is the second seed behind world number one Novak Djokovic in the tune-up for the final Grand Slam of the season at Roland Garros on September 27.

But he does not believe the brutal switch from hard to clay surface will be a disadvantage for his rivals at the French Open.

“If Roland Garros is this week, maybe yes, (but) Roland Garros is two weeks away so I don’t think so.”

Bopanna advances

Rohan Bopanna and Denis Shapovalov upset the top-seeded duo of Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal 3-6, 6-3, [10-5] to move into the quarterfinals.

Important results (second round): Men: Denis Shapovalov bt Pedro Martinez 6-4, 6-4; Stefano Travaglia bt Borna Coric 7-6(2), 7-5, Grigor Dimitrov bt Yoshihito Nishioka 6-1, 6-0; Rafael Nadal bt Pablo Carreno Busta 6-1, 6-1.

Women: Elina Svitolina bt Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 7-6(4); Karolina Pliskova bt Barbora Strycova 6-3, 6-3; Svetlana Kuznetsova bt Anett Kontaveit 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.

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