Rafael Nadal charged out of the blocks Wednesday to hammer Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1, 6-1 in his opening match at the Monte Carlo Masters. The 11-time champion showed no sign of the knee problems which forced him to quit ahead of an Indian Wells semi-final against Roger Federer a month ago.
The 32-year-old had expressed pre-tournament caution regarding the health of his knee -- a worry which appeared to be groundless after a 76-minute masterclass. "I'm happy for this very positive start. I had good feelings on court," he said. Nadal collected the opening five games of the afternoon in 17 minutes as he set the tone for another dominant display in the principality.
He was equally in control during the second set, where he saved three break points in the fourth game and two more in the sixth."It was a great start, it's good to be back here," the 17-time Grand Slam winner said, keeping talk of his knee to a minimum."I can't pretend to not have pain at all, but professionals normally play with pain," Nadal said.
"It's part of the sport at the highest level and it's no limitations at all. I was able to move well and be confident with the things that I did." Bautista Agut has now lost to his Spanish countryman in all three of their meetings, while Nadal improved his incredible record here to 69-4 as he takes aim at a fourth consecutive title at the event."This is just the first match and it's been a very positive start," Nadal said. "The results say that."
Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem, who lost to Nadal in Paris last June, beat Slovakia's Martin Klizan 6-1, 6-4.Thiem, who won the Indian Wells title over Federer, made a successful switch to his favourite surface as he prepares for the pre-French Open sequence of events.Fourth seed Thiem won with a break in the final game after Klizan held a 40-0 lead.
(With Inputs: PTI)