Djokovic and Nadal Crush Opponents at French Open.

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic made commanding starts in the 2022 French Open at Roland Garros.

Each were able to win in straight sets during the first and second rounds of the tournament. Djokovic quickly saw off initial challenger Yoshihito Nishioka, winning 6-3, 6-1, 6-0.

Djokovic was able to test his opponent’s speed with the drop shot, a favoured choice by the Serb during his last two French Open appearances. After coming forward to reach the short ball, Nishioka was left floundering behind the baseline or fell victim to a Djokovic lob.

Djokovic gained power on his serve as the match continued, enabling a quick one-two punch that left Nishioka no chance to construct points and build rhythm in his groundstrokes.

During the second round, Djokovic beat Alex Molcan 6-2, 6-3, 7-6. He focused on short, efficient points by continuing the one-two punches.

He also served out-wide and imparted heavy topspin on his forehand. Molcan was out of position early in the rally, allowing Djokovic to finish the point quickly from the baseline, hitting into the open court. Aljaž Bedene will be his third-round opponent on Friday.

Nadal deployed a similar strategy and kept points quick, though he maintained his customary deep return position on clay.

During his first-round match against Jordan Thompson, Nadal rushed to the baseline to gain control of the rally as soon as the return was made.

Nadal often served out-wide to the ad side on his service games – possibly the hardest return for a right-handed player to make.

The Spaniard pushed Thompson back with some heavy topspin before attacking the backhand with vigour or using the drop shot. Nadal either won the point outright from this or swiftly put Thompson on the defensive, beating the Australian 6-2, 6-2, 6-2.

In the second round, Nadal faced Corentin Moutet, winning another brisk match 6-3, 6-1, 6-4. Moutet attacked Nadal’s backhand, but the consistency and shot tolerance on that wing was so strong that Nadal gave him few forced errors.

The Frenchman tried to play a varied and aggressive game, changing direction and going for shots close to the line in rallies. However, Nadal pounced on any short ball, striking a winner. He will also play his third-round match on Friday against Botic van de Zandschulp.

Elsewhere in the draw, rising star Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev made epic comebacks to win close second-round matches.

Alcaraz saved a match point during the fourth set, eventually fighting from 0-3 down in the fifth to beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas in a marathon fixture. Levelling the scoreline to 4-all, and on the breakpoint, Alcaraz defended smash after smash from Ramos-Vinolas, attempting to put the teenager away.

After fluid movement on the clay and efficient anticipation from Alcaraz, he returned several difficult balls behind the line, only for his opponent to make an unforced error into the net, yielding the crucial break of serve. Alcaraz finally won the match 6-1, 6-7, 5-7, 7-6, 6-4.

Alexander Zverev was able to overcome Sebastian Baez in another five-set thriller. Baez took the first two sets by staying behind the baseline. He absorbed Zverev’s powerful groundstrokes, waiting for a shorter ball and the chance to hit an easy winner.

Zverev managed to win the fourth set, boosting his game with high kick serves and a tighter position to the line.

At 4-5 in the fifth, Zverev called upon his serve and dismissed match point with a potent ace down the “T”. Baez’s nerve appeared to break, as Zverev secured the last two games of the match, winning 2-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 7-5.

Source: Perfect Tennis