Rafa Nadal has become only the fourth player to establish a career landmark of 1000 match wins on the professional tour when he defeated Feliciano Lopez in the second round of the Rolex Paris Masters.
One negative thing about getting to 1,000 – is that you’re very old as it means you have to have had a very long career! Rafa Nadal
In the absence of Novak Djokovic, Nadal returned to the French capital after winning Roland Garros for the 13th time a few weeks back, took some time to get into his stride but when he did, he saw off his compatriot 4-6 7-6(5) 6-4.
Following the landmark victory, Nadal declared: “It’s a great achievement for me.”
He joins Jimmy Connors who leads the elite group with 1,274 wins who is followed by Roger Federer in second place with 1242 and Ivan Lendl.
Nadal added: “One negative thing about getting to 1,000 – is that you’re very old as it means you have to have had a very long career!
“But I’m very happy.”
His achievement was marked by a special presentation after the match which was unfortunately was played out in the Accor Hotel Arena in Paris Bercy absent of any spectators owing to the French coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
The 34-year-old Nadal, who is now bidding for his first Paris Masters title takes on Jordan Thompson in the third round after the Australian beat Croatia’s Borna Coric 2-6 6-4 6-2.
Overall victory for the Spanish icon from Mallorca, would see him equal Djokovic’s current record of 36 Master titles.
In his half Andrey Rublev could well provide him with his biggest challenge if they both succeed in making the semi-finals as scheduled.
The Russian seeded five, cruised past the Moldovian Luck Loser Rudi Albot 6-1 6-2 after 58 minutes with two breaks in each set to reach the third round.
The Muscovite did not face a break point and hit 28 winners as he dominated with his serve for his 40th win of the season to make him the most successful player of the year which has also brought him five titles.
Rublev set up a third-round match against Stan Wawrinka, who came back from one set down to beat American Tommy Paulin a topsy-turvy contest 4-6 7-6(3) 6-2.
Of interest, but from a different perspective, was Alexander Zverev’s appearance on court for the first time since he confirmed he was going to be a father with a former girl-friend and was accused by a second one that he had abused her physically which he strenuously denies.
Seeded four, the German swept past Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic 6-2 6-2 and told the media he was there to play tennis.
“I have said everything on my Instagram. There is nothing else I can add right now,” Zverev said following his win.
“I’m here. I’m here to play tennis. I mean, the relationship, as I said, has been over for a very long time.
“I’m enjoying my time on court. I have said everything. They are not true, and there is nothing more I can say right now.
“I have been doing that well the last few weeks… Since the comeback of the season, and I want to continue doing that.
“There is obviously a little bit of things going on.”
Zverev will face Adrian Mannarino in the next round the Frenchman having fought his way past Yoshihito Nishioka, a stubborn Japanese player 6-4 6-7(5) 6-3