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‘Nearly impossible to control the ball against Rafa Nadal’, says Mats Wilander

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Mats Wilander has spoken of the difficulty of facing Rafael Nadal at the French Open due to how high the Spaniard can get the ball to bounce.

No. 3 seed Nadal defeated world No. 63 Alexei Popyrin 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) in the first round at Roland Garros.

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Wilander described the challenge posed by the 13-time French Open winner – having experienced playing with him.

“The ball bounces so high that Popyrin cannot control it at all,” Wilander said while viewing a clip of Popyrin mishitting after a Nadal forehand.

“When Rafa hits that return, two-and-a-half metres over the net, and it has 4,000rpms on it. I played with Rafa once and that was the problem.

“You could hit shots that literally clear the fence if you mishit them a little bit, so it’s nearly impossible to control.”

Nadal will face world No. 53 Richard Gasquet in the second round in Paris.

The 34-year-old Spaniard has won all 16 previous of his matches against the Frenchman – also 34.


Rafael Nadal
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