Rafael Nadal bids to silence whispers of vulnerability
Nadal bids to silence whispers of vulnerability. The men’s field at the French Open will be glued to Rafael Nadal’s second round match with Pablo Andujar later on Thursday to see if the holder is suffering a blip or a full-blown crisis.
French Open 2011 The Spanish top seed endured his first five-set match at Roland Garros on Tuesday when he risked becoming the first Paris men’s champion to lose in the first round before fighting back in front of a stunned crowd to beat big server John Isner.
Andujar is unlikely to worry Nadal with his serve but will still aim to gnaw away at his compatriot’s sagging confidence, which was already weakened by consecutive claycourt losses to man-of-the-moment Novak Djokovic in Madrid and Rome.
“It was weird because he was not really there and that’s funny for Rafa, he was not really in the (Isner) match,” fellow Spaniard and seventh seed David Ferrer told reporters.
“People say Rafa is no longer the player he used to be. Well, I don’t think so. But he has a lot of pressure, Djokovic has put a lot of pressure on him.”
Serbia’s Djokovic powered into round three on Wednesday after dominating Victor Hanescu, who retired hurt, while Roger Federer was equally commanding in disposing of Maxime Teixeira.
British fourth seed Andy Murray faces Italian Simone Bolelli on Thursday and runner-up for the last two years Robin Soderling of Sweden comes up against Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas with cloud and wind expected in fashionable western Paris.
In the women’s second round, Belgium’s Kim Clijsters is first on Court Philippe Chatrier aiming to further prove she is over her ankle injury and can really win a wide-open tournament when she plays Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus.
Chinese sixth seed Li Na is also in action against unheralded Silvia Soler Espinosa of Spain while in-form Maria Sharapova takes on home hope Caroline Garcia as more smart money pours in for the Russian on the betting exchanges.