Nadal steamrolls to opening win
Rafael Nadal charged out of the blocks yesterday to hammer Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1, 6-1 in his opening match at the Monte Carlo Masters.
The 11-time champion showed no sign of the knee problems which forced him to quit ahead of an Indian Wells semi-final against Roger Federer a month ago. The 32-year-old had expressed pre-tournament caution regarding the health of his knee -- a worry which appeared to be groundless after a 76-minute masterclass.
Nadal collected the opening five games of the afternoon in 17 minutes as he set the tone for another dominant display in the principality. He was equally in control during the second set, where he saved three break points in the fourth game and two more in the sixth.
“It was a great start, it’s good to be back here,” the 17-time Grand Slam winner said. “I’ve had some great moments on this court, I really enjoy playing here. “It’s not easy to come back from injury, I had to do a lot of mental work as well to be prepared. “I tried to play solid, dominate with my forehand when I had the chance.”
Bautista Agut has now lost to his Spanish countryman in all three of their meetings, while Nadal improved his incredible record here to 69-4 as he takes aim at a fourth consecutive title at the event. Third seed Alexander Zverev rediscovered traces of his best form with a 6-1, 6-4 defeat of Felix Auger-Aliassime. The German, locally based, reached the third round as he tamed the 18-year-old who broke through for a Miami semi-final last month.