Rafael Nadal strode on the Suzzane Lenglen court in the typical fashion on Friday for a 2nd round match, as rain stopped play on Thursday right after he warmed up. In retrospect of rain, he must have known that he'll be playing on consecutive days and winning quick with minimum fuss will help. Nobody expected any greater challenge from the unseeded left-hander Martin Klizan.
Nadal came out very aggressively in the first couple of games to press an early advantage but Klizan's serve was working well. Klizan went for his second serve at crucial points to get himself out of the spot of bother. After a first couple of games it was clear that the overcast heavy conditions are not helping Nadal's topspin and it did not have the usual bite. So he tried to change the game and employed a few drop shots to disrupt Klizan's rhythm; only to find that the guy had pretty good wheels. In the seventh game, a double fault by Nadal and a drop shot well reached by Klizan set two break points. Klizan needed only one and had the first break as Nadal went long with his forehand.
In the battle of two lefty's, which surely is awkward for both, because of not so many of them around, Klizan held his nerve and managed to win the first set 6-4. Martin Klizan has took a leaf out of the book of Daniel Brands in the 1st round but he shared the same fate. It is fine to disrupt Nadal with aggressive tennis on clay for one set or two but to win three with such low percentage tennis is nigh impossible to maintain. Roger Federer has done it a lot of times, only to find himself unable to complete the task. Robin Soderling stands the only man to manage the feat.
Nadal responded as expected in the second set and broke Klizan twice to romp at 4-0 lead. Though Nadal gave one break away with a poor service game, he held on to win the set 6-3. Nadal was playing solid by now and Klizan was fading. The third set only saw one break of serve which was enough for Rafa to secure the set.
The 4th set of the match saw a resurrected Klizan and both players struggled to hold serve. Taking inspiration from the women's matches, it had a total of five break of serves with Nadal having one more than Klizan to close out the match.
It was a win for Rafa but not the easiest of outings. But he tends to get better with each match in Grand Slams. In the on-court interview he really prayed and hoped everybody else would also pray for the Sun to be out (for his top spin to be lethal in dry conditions) to help him. That's so greedy...no? I believe on the French clay, it is the other players that need help, not Nadal.