200 days had passed since last appearance of Rafael Nadal on the ATP Tour. From when he played his last match in the final of the Acapulco tournament on 29 February, but he finally came back for the Italian Open 2020. The outbreak of the Coronavirus emergency would have upset everyone's lives, but apparently it did not affect the Spaniard's desire to grind opponents on his beloved clay-courts.
The world number 2, who hadn't played a game on red for 15 months (the final of Roland Garros was held on 9 June 2019), annihilated his compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta 6-1 6-1, qualifying for the round of 16. final of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.
The Manacor champion, who boasts an incredible 62 wins and only six defeats in Rome, has re-launched his candidacy to conquer the 36th Masters 1000 of his extraordinary career. The equilibrium lasted only for three games, just long enough for Rafa to find the measures of the court and frustrate any hope of Carreno.
The 29-year-old from Gijon, who in any case had just returned from the semifinal at the US Open, held up for the first 16 minutes, only to be swept away under the blows of a wild Nadal. As the minutes went by, it became more and more evident that the Majorcan was much more at ease, inducing his rival to try daring solutions that almost nevertheless have been rewarded.
The 19-time Grand Slam champion did not even concede the honor of arms to poor Pablo, who at 4-1 in the second set collected yet another overwhelming row from Nadal. For the former ATP number 1 this is the 14th victory out of 17 games played this year, but what matters most is having found a Rafa in excellent physical condition after more than six months of hiatus.
At the Roland Garros he will once again be the man to beat. The next obstacle in his path will come out of the challenge between Milos Raonic and Dusan Lajovic.
Novak Djokovic and Jannik Sinner's performances
Already in New York, the Serbian champion Nvak Djokovic had proven to be one of the fittest players on the circuit, a sensation that found further confirmation despite the sudden change of surface.
6-4 6-1 the score in favor of the number 29 ATP, who is now expected from the derby against Novak Djokovic. Grigor Dimitrov will be Jannik Sinner's opponent for a place in the quarterfinals. The Bulgarian dismissed the Japanese Nishioka without ever giving up his serve, a factor that adds a pinch of spice to Friday's super challenge.
Already good at holding on until the second round of the home "1000" It is a challenge with few, and decisive, points. Djokovic studies the situation, almost adapts to the rhythm of the blue player and flirts with the break in the seventh break.
He does not hook him, ok, but he still rises to 4-3 and with a partial 7-2 he puts his head forward. The Serbian does what he should, when he should. Needless to say, he sets the decisive shoulder at the start, repeats the break operation near the finish line and in the middle leaves just four points with the joke available.
The final 6-3 6-2 is a logical consequence. In the third round there could be the derby with Filip Krajinovic. In the background also Marco Cecchinato.