French Open 2017

Nadal looking unbeatable

Fourth seed Rafael Nadal crunching a backhand during his 6-0, 6-1, 6-0 win against Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili to move into the fourth round of the French Open yesterday.
Fourth seed Rafael Nadal crunching a backhand during his 6-0, 6-1, 6-0 win against Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili to move into the fourth round of the French Open yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

He pummels Georgian with loss of only one game, while error-prone Dimitrov is beaten

PARIS • Clearly Nikoloz Basilashvili had come to face Rafael Nadal with a plan but, like Mike Tyson said, everybody has a plan until they are punched in the face.

And that is what happened - in tennis terms - to the Georgian when he took on the irrepressible Spaniard in the French Open third round yesterday.

The brutality of Nadal's destruction of the 63rd-ranked player on the Roland Garros main show court was withering. The statistics within the 6-0, 6-1, 6-0 pummelling make for grisly reading.

Grisly for Basilashvili, grisly for Nasal's next opponent Roberto Bautista Agut, grisly for everyone in the draw. Grisly for everyone except the fourth-seeded Spaniard.

For example, it took Basilashvili until the 12th game of the match to break his duck on the scoreboard. He won one in four of his first serve points in the opening set.

Yet, he is no rookie. This year, the 25-year-old has already beaten Dominic Thiem, who was then ranked No. 8 in the world .

Nadal is a unique creature on clay, though. His statistics are mind-boggling. Friday's victory was his 100th match on the slow clay of Roland Garros, where he now has a staggering win-loss ratio of 98-2.


  • Men's 3rd rd: Dominic Thiem (Aut) bt Steve Johnson (USA) 6-1 7-6 (6-4) 6-3, Roberto Bautista (Esp) bt Jiri Vesely (Cze) 6-3 6-4 6-3, Horacio Zeballos (Arg) bt David Goffin (Bel) 4-5 (Goffin retired), Milos Raonic (Can) bt Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (Esp) 6-1 1-0 ret.

    Women's 3rd rd: Samantha Stosur (Aus) bt Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) 6-2 6-2, Kristina Mladenovic (Fra) bt Shelby Rogers (USA) 7-5 4-6 8-6, Jelena Ostapenko (Lat) bt Lesia Tsurenko (Ukr) 6-1 6-4.


You would find few takers to bet against him winning a 10th French Open next Sunday.

Canadian fifth seed Milos Raonic reached the last 16 for the second year in a row, after Spanish veteran Guillermo Garcia-Lopez retired at the start of the second set with a thigh muscle injury.

Raonic, the world No. 6, cruised through the first set 6-1 in 21 minutes and led 1-0 in the second when the Spaniard retired at the changeover.

Bulgarian 11th seed Grigor Dimitrov, bidding to make the last 16 of the clay-court Grand Slam for the first time, looked fit, sharp and focused as he raced to a 4-0 lead in the first set against Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta.

But the 20th-seeded Spaniard, pummelling ground strokes deep into both corners, turned the match in a 20-point sixth game, winning it on his second break point after Dimitrov failed to covert four chances of his own.

That seemed to melt the steel in the Bulgarian's game and he speared a backhand into the net to concede the first set.

Similar backhand errors cost him the second and third sets too, as he lost the match 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.

The win took the Spaniard into the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time, where he will face Raonic.

Defending women's champion Garbine Muguruza said she turns to baking in her spare time to help cope with the pressure of playing at Grand Slam tournaments.

The Spaniard revealed she made desserts to relax during her run to the 2015 Wimbledon final and admitted it remains a favourite hobby after reaching the fourth round at Roland Garros yesterday.

"I still do it," said fourth seed Muguruza, following her 7-5, 6-2 victory over Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva.



Day 7: Singtel TV Ch115 & StarHub Ch209, 4.30pm. Ch114 & Ch208, 10.15pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 03, 2017, with the headline 'Nadal looking unbeatable'. Print Edition | Subscribe