(Rome) You never beat Rafael Nadal twice in a row on clay.

Since the start of his career, Nadal has never lost two consecutive matches on his preferred surface, and the Spaniard continued that streak on Wednesday by thrashing John Isner 6-3, 6-1 in the second round of the Italian Tennis Open.

Nadal had just suffered a defeat against 19-year-old tennis player Carlos Alcaraz in the quarter-finals of the Madrid Open last week. After a first-round bye, he improved his career record on clay to 44-0 after a loss on the same surface.

Additionally, ‘Rafa’ has been able to build his confidence as he tries to get back into shape after suffering a stress fracture to a rib that kept him sidelined for six weeks.

Although he would certainly like to add a title to his 10 career Italian Open titles, Nadal prefers to focus on his fitness ahead of the French Open, which begins in less than two weeks. Nadal has won 13 of his 21 career Grand Slam titles there.

Facing Isner, Nadal improved to 19-0 against the American players on clay. He’s only been forced to the limit twice before — each time, against Isner, who forced Nadal to negotiate five rounds at Roland Garros in 2011 and three rounds at the Monte Carlo Masters in 2015.

The Spaniard will now cross swords with Ontario’s Denis Shapovalov, whom he beat at the same stage of the competition last year after overcoming two match points and completing the comeback.

“Super lucky,” Nadal said of his win over the Canadiens last year. He is very dangerous. I will have to raise my level of play a notch. »

Meanwhile, second-seeded Alexander Zverev, who lost to Alcaraz in the Madrid Open final on Sunday, beat Sebastian Baez 7-6 (6), 6-3 to put an end to to the Argentinian’s eight-game winning streak.

On the women’s side, American Amanda Anisimova ousted Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic 7-6 (5), 6-1, while Croatian Petra Martic upset fifth seed Anett Kontaveit 6-2, 6 -3.

Madrid Open runner-up Jessica Pegula continued on as her opponent Anhelina Kalinina withdrew before their match due to an upper body injury. The American will now have a date with the third seed, Aryna Sabalenka.

https://www.lapresse.ca/sports/tennis/2022-05-11/master-1000-de-rome/nadal-ecrase-john-isner.php

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