Tennis-Nadal sails through with 300th major win


FILE PHOTO: Tennis - Rafael Nadal Press Conference - Rafa Nadal Academy, Mallorca, Spain - February 2, 2022 Spain's Rafael Nadal with the Australian Open trophy during the press conference REUTERS/Enrique Calvo

PARIS (Reuters) -Rafa Nadal produced an imperious show on Wednesday to secure his 300th Grand Slam match victory, dismantling local hope Corentin Moutet 6-3 6-1 6-4 to book his spot in the French Open third round.

Nadal counts 13 Roland Garros titles among his overall 21 majors -- the highest among men -- and despite his injury-blighted buildup to the claycourt tournament he has looked at his usual best in the first two rounds.

The Spaniard, whose preparations were hampered by a rib injury and a foot problem, was not keen to talk about his physical condition.

"I can't try to go very deep in a tournament if I'm worried about my physical issues every single day," he told reporters.

"So if something happens, I am gonna accept it. But for the moment I am focused on the tennis."

The Spaniard, who turns 36 next week, will next meet Dutch 26th seed Botic van de Zandschulp with a potential quarter-final looming against world number one Novak Djokovic who defeated him in last year's semi-finals.

Playing under the lights at Court Philippe Chatrier, Nadal peppered the red clay with winners from both his forehand and backhand in the first two sets to leave Moutet stranded.

In his first career meeting with the 23-year-old French wildcard, Nadal broke Moutet's serve four times in the first two sets but uncharacteristic errors at the start of the third allowed his opponent to take a 2-0 lead.

Nadal immediately broke back, however, to get the set back on serve and after another exchange of breaks, the Spaniard broke Moutet again to seal victory on his first match point.

"Preparation hasn't been perfect so I didn't expect a perfect start to the tournament," Nadal said.

"But it has been going quite well. I am positive about the things that I did out there tonight. Of course, there is room to improve and I need to improve if I want to keep having chances to go deeper."

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Ed Osmond)

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