Rafael Nadal passes French Open injury test as Spaniard too good for Jordan Thompson


Rafael Nadal passed an opening fitness at the French Open to move to the brink of 300 wins in Grand Slam matches. The Spanish superstar missed the start of the clay-court season with a fractured rib – and then revealed he was playing through the pain of his chronic foot injury after losing at the Rome Masters.

Nadal, 35, had played only five clay-court matches before arriving in Roland Garros – his lowest number ever – before his bid to win his 14th title here in his 18th consecutive appearance. And despite looking rusty on his return to Court Philippe-Chatrier, the world No 5 proved too good for Aussie Jordan Thompson as he won 6-2, 6-2, 6-2.

Nadal said: “It is incredible for me to play here another time. I am very happy with the win in straight sets and to get through the first round.”

He now has 299 Grand Slam match victories and will face Corentin Moutet in the next round after the French wildcard defeated Stan Wawrinka. World No 82 Thompson looked like he had just walked in off Bondi Beach with his coloured shorts, reversed baseball cap and Merv Hughes-style moustache.

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Thompson became the first ever Aussie to beat Andy Murray in a Tour-level match at Queen’s Club in 2017 when the Scot was world No 1. But there was no chance of a similar upset today despite Nadal’s lack of match practice and the Spaniard being seeded outside the top four here for only the second time.

Nadal broke the Thompson serve seven times – and was only broken once in the second set – and the Aussie grew increasingly frustrated. As he went down 2-5 in the second set, he angrily hit a ball out of the Centre Court and was hit with a code warning by English umpire Alison Hughes.

Nadal finished the encounter on his first match point when Thompson slapped a backhand into the net after just over two hours. Novak Djokovic, who is scheduled to meet Nadal in the quarter-finals, begins his title defence in the first ever night session at Roland Garros.


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