Spain’s Rafael Nadal returns the ball to France’s Benoit Paire during their tennis match at the Roland Garros 2017 French Open on May 29, 2017 in Paris. Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP
Rafael Nadal made mince-meal of his fourth round match against compatriot, Roberto Bautista-Agut in a one-sided affair that ended 6/1; 6/2; 6/2 over a period of one hour 50 minutes. The encounter was a letdown, as the Matador had been expected to face a stiff challenge by a gutsy player.
Bautista-Agut served first in the third set and was taken to deuce before he took the game. Nadal was in control of the second game as he leveled. Each player held serve to two-all. Hope of any resurgence faded in the fifth game. Nadal hit a forehand winner to take the first point and got the second on a forced forehand error by his opponent who did not win a point before conceding the break.
Ever a dangerous front runner, Nadal won the sixth game quickly. Bautista-Agut fell behind 0-30 but leveled at 30-all, yet lost two consecutive points to hand Nadal a second break of serve and a commanding 5 to 2 lead. Serving for the match, Nadal took the opening point when he hit three match points. Bautista-Agut saved the first with a forehand winner, and the second on an error by Nadal. On the third opportunity, Nadal’s hard drive elicited a forehand error and he was through to the quarterfinals.
The statistics take prominence when a match ends so quickly. Nadal was dominant in all aspects of the encounter. He delivered four aces, with a 62 per cent success on first serves and won 69 per cent of points played after first delivery. Although his opponent served more conservatively and achieved a 76 percent success on first serves, Nadal’s returning ability limited his service points tally ratio to 52 per cent.
This extended to points won on second serves and also accounted for Nadal’s greater numbers in points won on service return. The Maestro amassed a total of eight winners to his opponent’s 56, as both players had about equal numbers of unforced errors.
The all-French encounter between Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet fulfilled all expectations based on the history of the two talented players. The first set was an all server affair determined with a tiebreak taken by Monfils by eight points to five. In the second set, Monfils took his service game to level four games apiece.
In the ninth game, Richard fell behind 15-30 but leveled and took the lead. Monfils took the 10th game. The 11th game provided the thrills, Gasquet had the opportunity to win the game at 40 to 15 but Monfils forced the deuce with a forehand winner and had the first opportunity when his opponent missed an easy forehand smash.
A trademark backhand winner by Gasquet cancelled the advantage, and he followed with a backhand volley winner to reach game point that he clinched off a forehand miss by Monfils. Serving to level games, Monfils opened with an ace and led 30 to 0 when Gasquet hit a forehand long.
An unforced forehand error by Monfils reduced the points tally, while a second miss leveled at 30-all. Gasquet hit a forehand volley winner to reach set point and he got the game and set when Monfils missed a backhand shot.
The third set proceeded with both players holding service games easily. Gasquet led 40-0 on two forehand winners and an error by Monfils. Then he faced the danger of being deuced after hitting a double fault to 40-30. However, he took the game with another forehand winner to lead 3-2. Monfils held his serve without losing a point. Gasquet lost the seventh game after committing four errors and Monfils had the break of serve. After the odd-game change-over, Monfils took the first point on a forehand forced error by Gasquet and delivered an ace to lead 30-0. It was the last point of the match after two hours and 26 minutes.