December 20, 2014
Nadal, Murray stroll to victory in French Open
Rafa Nadal provided a claycourt lesson for one of the game's young apprentices at the French Open when he crushed rising Austrian Dominic Thiem with a masterly display to reach the third round today.
The eight-times champion showed flashes of his intimidating best in a 6-2 6-2 6-3 win that was tougher than the scoreline suggested but was never seriously in doubt against a player of whom grand things are expected.
While world No.1 Nadal improved his Roland Garros record to 61-1 in ruthless fashion, prospective semi-final opponent Andy Murray cruised into the third round by outclassing Australia's Marinko Matosevic.
Fifth seed David Ferrer, one of three players to beat Nadal on his favoured claycourts this season, also wasted little energy reaching the last 32, demolishing Italian Simone Bolelli 6-2 6-3 6-2.
After the seismic shock of defending champion Serena Williams's second round exit on Wednesday the women's draw was relatively incident free on Day Five, with Simona Halep and Jelena Jankovic among the leading seeds to progress.
Perhaps wary of the 20-year-old Thiem's reputation as a rising force in the men's game Nadal was quick to stamp his authority on Philippe Chatrier Court - the rectangle of Parisian clay that remains his fortress.
"I think it was a dangerous match, a dangerous opponent today," Nadal, who appears to be slipping into the groove, said.
I think today I played a solid match, I knew that if I didn't I would be in trouble."
He briefly was in the third set when Thiem, who stunned world number three Stanislas Wawrinka in the second round of the Madrid Masters this month, broke and held serve to lead 3-1.
His booming inside-out forehands briefly put Nadal on the back foot but Nadal quickly responded to the challenge and won the remaining games, ending the contest on his second match point when the Austrian sent a forehand long.
Nadal, who next faces Argentine Leonardo Mayer, is on a quarter-final collision course with last year's runner-up and compatriot Ferrer.
"I am ready for the next round and was very happy with my performance, especially with my consistency," Ferrer, next plays Italian Andreas Seppi, said after dismantling Bolelli.
"My season on clay has been good (when asked about beating Nadal on clay this season). I have a good feel."
Seventh seed Murray, the Wimbledon champion, produced a masterclass to win an entertaining, although one-sided, match 6-3 6-1 6-3 against Matosevic who was playing in the second round of a grand slam for the first time having previously lost 12 first round matches.
Briton Murray, who will have a sterner test against Germany's 28th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber in round three, was inevitably quizzed yet again on who would be his next coach following his split with Ivan Lendl.
"There have been a lot of different names that people mention," Murray, who seems to be doing perfectly well on his own, said. "Obviously Amelie (Mauresmo) this week, there was (Mats) Wilander, there has been (Jonas) Bjorkman, John McEnroe, (Martina) Navratilova, Leon Smith, who is the Davis Cup captain, Bob Brett.
"When the time is right I will make an announcement."