Tennis: Nadal pushed hard by unheralded Brands in French Open first round
PARIS (AFP) - Rafael Nadal's bid for an unprecedented eighth French Open title was given a huge scare by unheralded German Daniel Brands on Monday before the Spanish star prevailed 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, 6-3.
The defending champion, who had lost only once in 53 matches at Roland Garros, dropped the opening set of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career, as world No. 59 Brands unleashed a barrage of attacks to leave the third seed reeling.
Brands, who had lost all four of his previous first round matches in Paris, also led 3-0 in the second set tie-breaker, before Nadal belatedly found his rhythm to steady the ship
Nadal, who arrived in Paris having won six titles in eight finals since his return from a seven-month injury lay-off, then tightened his grip on the game as the Brands' big-hitting game plan ran out of firepower.