Rafael Nadal edges closer to Novak Djokovic clash after sailing past Moutet at French Open

Rafael Nadal edges closer to Novak Djokovic clash after sailing past Moutet at French Open

Rafael Nadal progressed to the third round of the French Open with a 6-3 6-1 6-4 win over Corentin Moutet. The 13-time champion in Paris needed two hours and nine minutes to breeze past the Frenchman in what was their first meeting, silencing any doubts about his form following his recent injury scare in Rome and is now one step closer to a quarter-final meeting with Novak Djokovic.

Nadal and Moutet had never faced each other before, and the 23-year-old admitted ahead of the match that he used to be a huge fan of the Spaniard as a child, wearing his t-shirts. But after a meeting with the man dubbed the ‘King of Clay’ on Court Philippe-Chatrier, he may revoke his membership in the Nadal fan club.

The 21-time Grand Slam champion immediately went 0-40 up on the first Moutet service game and, despite saving the first two, the world No 139 couldn’t fend off the fifth seed as he was broken and quickly went 0-3 down. The opening break proved crucial, as both men held on for the rest of the set before Nadal closed it out 6-3 in 45 minutes.

The momentum was still with the 13-time champion despite taking a bathroom break at the end of the first set, as he broke to start the second set with an immediate advantage. And Moutet started to fade quickly as Nadal raced ahead, breaking again and holding to love for a 4-0 lead after just 20 minutes of the set.

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Moutet refused to go down without a fight and let out a big roar as he held on from 30-30 and deuce to get himself on the board in the second set and avoid the bagel at 1-4. But that was the 23-year-old’s last game of the set as the 35-year-old held on and then broke to take the second 6-1, putting himself within a set of the third round.

It was all change at the start of the second set, as Moutet suddenly found himself 0-40 up on the Nadal serve with his first break points of the match. The Parisian crowd erupted into chants of “Corentin” when their man broke the Nadal serve for the first time and he had clearly hit a purple patch, firing a stunning passing shot past the Spaniard before holding for a 2-0 lead.

But the world No 139’s lead didn’t last for long as Nadal quickly got back on serve at 2-2 and broke to go 5-3 up and serve for a straight-sets win. Moutet continued to show some fight against the 13-time champion as he managed to break back and stay alive in the match. It wasn’t to be for the Frenchman though as Nadal responded by setting up two match points and broke for a 6-3 6-1 6-4 victory to punch his ticket to the third round – just two matches from a showdown with Djokovic.

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Published at Wed, 25 May 2022 21:13:00 +0000