Nadal, Alcaraz and Zapata make a plenary session at Roland Garros for Spanish tennis

Spanish tennis had three representatives this Friday in the third round of Roland Garros and Rafael Nadal (N.5), Carlos Alcaraz (N.6) and Bernabé Zapata (N.131) achieved the plenary session and qualified for the round of 16 of the tournament Parisian, something that Paula Badosa (N.3) could also achieve on Saturday.

Nadal, 13-time champion at Roland Garros, defeated Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp (N.29) 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 and qualified for the round of 16, where he will face Canadian Felix Auger- Aliassime (N.9), a player who is advised by Toni Nadal, ‘Rafa’s’ uncle and the Mallorcan’s coach for almost his entire career (until the end of 2017).

It was Nadal’s 108th victory in 111 matches played in Paris and perhaps, from a statistical point of view, one of the best for the Spaniard: 40 of 46 points won with his first service (25 of 27 in the first two sets) and only 13 unforced errors (5 in the first two sets).

“Today (Friday) I have taken an important step in my level. For two and a half sets it has been the best minutes on court since I came back from my rib injury (after Indian Wells in March). I had fun playing tennis and that for me it is the most important”, he assured in a press conference

Nadal started a little cold and was surprised by a ‘break’ entry from the Dutchman, but he recovered immediately and, paradoxically, one can almost say that the match was over at that moment.

The Spaniard did not miss a shot again, despite looking for the lines and moving the ‘giant’ (1.90m) from one side to another, who could do little in the face of the wave of balls that came at him, especially with the Nadal’s service, since he could only return 4 of the Balearic’s 22 serves in the first set (6-3, 35 minutes), and always with the second service.

– Zidane in the stands –

The second set was also clearly for the Spaniard (6-2) and everything seemed doomed when Nadal led 4-0 in the third, but Van de Zandschulp gave his last blows, which, together with some mistakes by the Spaniard (he made five errors unforced in the first 7 games of the last set, as many as in the first two sets), allowed him to lengthen the match a bit against the king of clay.

The only one who was able to steal some prominence from Nadal at the Suzanne Lenglen was Zinedine Zidane. The public noticed the presence of the former Real Madrid coach at the end of the first set and for a while the spectators were more devoted to shouting “Zizou, Zizou” and asking him to sign for Paris SG than to what was happening on the court.

In the night session, the young Alcaraz became the youngest player to reach the round of 16 in the Roland Garros men’s draw since Novak Djokovic did it in 2006 after clearly defeating 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 American Sebastian Korda, the only player who has beaten the Murcian this year on clay (in Monte Carlo).

– Monte Carlo Rematch –

In a match between two players with a very effective service, it ended up being decided by Alcaraz’s greater success on break points (4/15 for the Spaniard and 0/5 for the American) and the large number of unforced errors of Korda (40 by 26).

“I watched that game again yesterday (Thursday) to correct mistakes. I knew I had to be aggressive, dominate the game and be focused from start to finish,” Alcaraz explained in the mixed zone.

Before, in the afternoon, came the surprise of Zapata, a tennis player from the previous phase and who has already eliminated two seeded players, both North Americans: Taylor Fritz and John Isner.

Against the North Carolina ‘gunner’ (who landed 67 winning shots to 40 for the Spaniard), Zapata was very patient to look for Isner’s mistakes (who made 77 to 24 for the Valencian) and only his pulse trembled when he missed five match balls in the fourth set, but he did not collapse and took the victory after three and a half hours of battle.



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