Rafael Nadal Beats Benoit Paire to Advance at 2017 French Open

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistMay 29, 2017

Spain's Rafael Nadal returns the ball to France's Benoit Paire during their first round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium, Monday, May 29, 2017 in Paris. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Petr David Josek/Associated Press

Rafael Nadal eased to a straight-set victory over Benoit Paire at the 2017 French Open on Monday, beating the Frenchman 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

Nadal entered the match having lost just once in 18 matches on clay this year. Aside from a hard-fought second set, he had little trouble in outclassing his opponent.

He cruised through the first set with consummate ease, sealing the first break at 3-1 with a superb backhand down the line.

Paire struggled to match Nadal early on as the Spaniard controlled the play from the back of the court, and he failed to return a powerful backhand as Nadal won a second break.

The nine-time Roland Garros champion saw out the first set in 26 minutes and broke to open the second.

It would be a different story in this set as Paire grew into the contest and made it much harder work for his opponent. He battled to an early break when Nadal sent a forehand wide, per Eurosport UK:

Paire rattled off another two games, including a second break when Nadal netted a forehand, to take a 3-1 lead:

The Frenchman was playing with much more confidence, as evidenced when he caught out his opponent with a cute drop shot, but the Spaniard broke back immediately, and they were soon level at 3-3 with the match back on serve.

Nadal had to unleash virtually every shot in his locker to hold serve at 4-3 after a double-fault handed Paire another opportunity to break. After pulling level again at 4-4, he broke to love to take the initiative for the first time in the second set, and he served it out comfortably.

From there, the result was never in doubt to the point Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times felt the third set wasn't needed at all:

Paire grew increasingly frustrated as the match wore on, particularly taking issue with the time taken by Nadal between points.

While the 28-year-old was able to stop the rot after losing five games in succession stretching back to the previous set, Nadal was firmly back on form:

The Spaniard would soon wrap up the match inside two hours, and he looks in excellent shape to progress far in his favourite Grand Slam once again.

He will play Robin Haase in the second round.

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