Rafael Nadal Monte Carlo Masters 2021

Rafa Nadal beats Alexei Popyrin to reach French Open second round

Title favourite Rafael Nadal defeated Alexei Popyrin in straight sets to reach the second round of the 2021 French Open.

The 13-time champion defeated the unseeded Australian 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) in the opening round of the event.

“I am pretty happy with the way I played today. Not an easy match with Alexei who is a dangerous player,” Nadal said in his on-court interview.

“Well, the beginning of the match had been very tough too. He was playing bombs all the time and his serve was huge. And under these warm and fast conditions it’s always difficult.

“He’s young and the speed of his ball is incredible. He’s fast running and when he hit the ball (he) is every time going for the highest power possible.

“So, was a tough match and I was lucky to win that third set. I don’t know how but I found a way, so super happy”

The third seed converted the only break point of the first set for 5-3, before serving out the set comfortably.

Nadal then broke the world No. 63 in his opening two service games of the second set en route to racing to a 2-0 sets lead.

The Spaniard fell behind 5-2 in the third set, but saved two set points to break back when Popyrin served for the set at 5-3.

Popyrin then saved four break points to hold on for 6-5, before Nadal held to take the set to a tiebreak.

Nadal dominated the tiebreak to book his spot in the second round – where he will play Richard Gasquet.

The 34-year-old has now won 26 consecutive sets at Roland Garros.

(Photo credit Ray Giubilo)

Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.