Rafael Nadal: Alexei Popyrin has tools to become top player



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Rafael Nadal: Alexei Popyrin has tools to become top player

World No, 3 Rafael Nadal saved two set points in the third set of his first round match against Alexei Popyrin en route to claiming a 6-3 6-2 7-6 (3) win. "We are playing best-of-five. The other player needs to win two more sets to beat you, and I know I am going to be there fighting for every single point," said Nadal of those set points, per the ATP website.

"Of course I don't want to lose the set at all, but that's part of the game. You face a player that [has] decided to go for every shot, so you are in trouble. If he's having success like he did with his serve, then it's difficult to have breaks, and then you are in a tricky position."

Also, Nadal spoke positively of Popyrin as he believes the Australian has the tools to become a top player. "With this serve, with these kinds of shots from the baseline, [Popyrin has] everything to become a top player," Nadal said.

"If he wants to do it, of course he is going to have his chances, because he has a lot of very difficult things in his game. He has everything to become a great, no, a fantastic player. Let's see. Let's see what is going on in the next couple of months, years."

Novak Djokovic joined Nadal in the second round

No. 1 seed Djokovic made a convincing start to his Roland Garros campaign as he saw off Tennys Sandgren 6-2 6-4 6-2. “It was strange, honestly, but I'm also honoured to be the first men's night session match [in the] history of this tournament, of this court,” Djokovic said, after playing without fans on Chatrier due to the 9 p.m.

curfew in Paris. “I had great support [at the ATP 250 event] in Belgrade last week, and I was kind of filled with a good vibe, good energy from those matches that I played in front of a crowd. So I didn't mind playing in front of an empty stadium tonight.

“Overall from [the] later stages of the Rome tournament until now, I'm just finding my groove on the court and striking the ball well. Very pleased with the way I am feeling and playing on the court." Djokovic plays next against Pablo Cuevas.

“I thought I played really well. Moved really well,” Djokovic said. “I'm going to try to keep that up. Obviously it's a long shot. It's a long tournament. But I'll take it match by match. And physically I'm also fit. I'm [as] motivated as anybody”.