Nadal tested by Daniel
Originally published on: 26/02/10 12:30
The four-time defending champion did not appear to be moving as well as he usually does and he was given a thorough workout by Brazilian Daniel, who is ranked 97th in the world.
The 30-year-old, who has only two ATP Tour wins to his name this season compared to 41 for his opponent, even went a break ahead in the second set. However, that proved to be the turning point as Nadal found some form to make it 29 matches without defeat at Roland Garros.
Daniel was matching his more illustrious opponent with some fierce winners and deft touches at the start of the match, but he was finally broken in the ninth game.
However, rather than going on to take the set, the Spaniard was broken back immediately. It was a different story two games later, though, as Nadal cemented his advantage at the second time of asking.
The champion was definitely not his usual sprightly self and he found himself facing break points in the fourth game of the second set.
Daniel finally prevailed on his fourth opening to take a 3-1 lead, which he promptly relinquished as Nadal showed his legendary fighting spirit. Going behind seemed to have fired up the 22-year-old and he made it three games in a row with a break to love before wrapping up the set.
Daniel, by now, seemed resigned to his fate and he was broken again at the start of the third set.
Nadal had been on the back foot for much of the first half of the match, but at last he took the initiative and Daniel could not deal with the precision of the Spaniard’s forehand.
The Brazilian managed one last hurrah as he broke Nadal when he served for the match, but he let slip three points to pull it back to 4-5 and a volley that drifted wide sealed his fate.