Nadal defeats Burgess and qualifies for the second round of the international tournament

Rafa lost the first set 6-4 to no. 108 in the world, then take the match and love central. Saturday finds the pole

No, we were not ready. We were not ready to say goodbye so quickly to the champion who lifted the trophy in Rome 10 times. Rafa Nadal is struggling, but it is not yet time to leave the Foro Italico Centre, his kingdom for many years. He dropped a set to Belgian Burgess, ranked 108 in the world and Zidane’s fanatical father, so much so that he called him Zizou, and then somehow clawed back the match by finishing 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. It is true that this Nadal has nothing to do with the man who has won here ten times, who has won 14 Roland Garros tournaments and 24 Slam tournaments. Sometimes he finds himself shaking his head as if to say, “No, Rafa, you can’t do that stupid thing.” But in the end the cry of the warrior and the medium breaks out.

It is Rafa who moves forward further because of the nervous energy and love of this game that was his life until the eve of his 37th birthday. But his body told him a thousand times: “Stop, please.” And he knows it: “I’m not quitting because I no longer enjoy or love this game. I’m quitting because my body can’t take it.” He is slower and less powerful, and the Belgian exploits that, hurts, and suits the realities of Mallorca.

Half service

Rafa and serve are not on the same page today and in the first set, after leading 3-1, a double fault and two errors allowed Burgess to come back. Feeling fresh, the Belgian stepped up to the plate while Nadal still had trouble with his serve and conceded a break in the ninth game. Burgess closes the score at 6-4, and Rafa (author of 16 free throws in the first set), stops for a toilet break and gets back on track, quickly leading by a break to 4-1 and then having to save the rounds twice. At 5-3, he has to serve to go to third, and he ends up with the advantage and then with a set point and the “vamos” of the old days, he closes. not finished yet. Central explodes. There is still, at least, a chance to admire the left-handed player who dominated this red clay court. The left-handed player again starts with the break advantage and at 3-2 concedes three points for the break. Pride, experience, character, courage and 4-2 for Nadal. It was not the time to celebrate, though, because at 4-3, Rafa still led 0-30 but saved himself again. It’s not time to say goodbye to Rome yet. Next stop Hubert Hurkacz, probably Saturday

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