Rome | Nadal and Draper score wins; Evans falls

The first round of the men’s Rome Masters draw, played over the last two days, was blighted by rain but the delays weren’t enough to overly disrupt the programme though quite a few matches were held over from one day to the next.

That was not my best match, I was practising better than I played today, but I found a way to win Rafa Nadal

Nonetheless the second round gets underway as planned on day three, Friday, as the seeded players join in and raise the level of expectancy.

Rafa Nadal, with 10 Rome titles to his credit already but, as a result of his very limited action over the past years through injury, is currently ranked 305 and didn’t receive a seeded protection.

As a consequence the 37-year-old Spaniard, a former world No.1 playing his fourth tournament of the year, clocked up his seventh win when he beat a very resilient and aggressive Belgian qualifier Zizon Bergs to secure his second round place.

He won 4-6 6-3 6-4 after two hours and 52-minutes of testing play for the 22-time grand slam champion, who is still concerned about his fitness and whether he could survive physically at the next major, the French Open in a few weeks time.

He certainly moved about the court with purpose though perhaps a step slower than when at his peak, to overcome the world No.105.

Nadal lost 5 of the last six games of the opening set but took the second after a long delay when a spectator fell ill in the stand early in the set.

As the match progressed Nadal looked more and more comfortable as his forehand started to punch through his opponents’ defences.

An early break in the third set put Nadal in control but he had to remain concentrated as Bergs fought back and held break back points in the sixth which he had to fend off.

He eventually closed out victory to book his place in the next round and a first-time meeting with the seventh seeded Pole, Hubert Hurkacz.

“That was not my best match, I was practising better than I played today, but I found a way to win,” Nadal commented later.

“That’s so important at the beginning of the tournament. My game is more unpredictable than before, I didn’t play much tennis for the last two years so have some ups and downs, on and off, but I think I can do much better than today and I hope to do it next round.”

Jack Draper was in dominant form

(Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images)

The British challenge opened on Friday with Jack Draper and Dan Evans in first round action while Cameron Norrie, seeded 27 has yet to join in though he now knows who he will be playing namely Jaume Munar following the Spaniard’s opening round 6-4 7-5 win over Australia’s Rinky Hijikata.

Draper meanwhile, produced an outstanding performance to dispatch the experienced Croatian Borna Coric 7-5 6-1 after just 97-minutes of play.

While the opening set was keenly contested, Draper’s serving was of a very high standard and ultimately swung the match his way as he then swept into a 5-0 lead in the second set before the Croat could recover sufficiently to prevent a bagel.

The 22-year-old British No.2 required just 35-minutes to complete a very impressive performance and he will certainly need to be at his best when he faces the second seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia in round two.

In contrast, Dan Evans is finding it hard to keep up as his results continue to disappoint.

Playing in his 11th tournament of the season, he has now recorded his sixth first round loss which is reflected in the British No.3’s world ranking slipping down to 65. So far this year he has won three of the 14 matches he has played.

While he may be recording losses at present, he has always fought hard during matches but on this occasion, he was competing against an icon of Italian tennis, the flamboyant Flavio Fognini on his home ground at the Foro Italico. It was a tough ask!

The 33-year-old Brit did well to force the match into a decider before capitulating 6-4 3-6 6-2 after two-hours 32-minutes.

Dan Evans' poor run continues

(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)



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