Nadal came into Rome off the back of a three-set defeat to Carlos Alcaraz in Madrid last week. The Spaniard is playing just the second tournament of his injury comeback, and had never lost back-to-back matches on clay in his career.
The first set was neck-and-neck until 3-3, when Isner set up two break point chances but blew them with errors as the 10-time champion managed to hold on for 4-3. After failing to capitalise on his chance to take the lead over Nadal, the world No 27 then lost his own serve to give the Spaniard the chance to serve for the set.
Nadal closed out a 6-3 set and carried his momentum into the second set, immediately breaking the Isner serve in the first game. The American halted the third seed’s run of games after five in a row as he held to get himself on the board in the second set at 1-2.
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