After this triumph (6-1 and 6-3), the ‘number two’ will play on Saturday against Schwartzman, whom he defeated in his nine games.
Two days after starring in a spectacular return to the courts with his victory over Pablo Carreño by a double 6-1, Rafael Nadal faced another estimable player on clay. Dusan Lajovic, 25th, achieved with the final of the Monte Carlo Masters 1000 last year the best result in a career in clear progression since he was under the command of José Perlas. The Serbian, clearly defeated in his two previous clashes with Nadal, this time also did not find a way to complicate his existence and said goodbye with thick numbers on his racket: 6-1 and 6-3, in an hour and 30 minutes. Of course, after a meeting of greater wear for the Spanish.
The Serbian sought his luck at the beginning with a clever approach. He did not wrinkle after giving up his serve in the second game. He recovered it immediately, but returned it to the fifth break ball, in a quarter that went until 12 minutes. So far he reached his true opposition.
Nine times winner in Rome, Nadal once again showed that he is the same as always. He faced the tough start of the game well against a brave opponent, who traveled meters to hit with his forehand and try to take the initiative for the points. Lajovic handles himself with the one-handed backhand, something that is usually a hindrance when in front of him is a tennis player with the characteristics of a left-hander. Nothing can be blamed for the Balkan’s starting attitude. Simply, he ran into an adversary at the moment unapproachable, who was undermining him until he was destroyed.
Sitting in his corner, reaching for his center with deep breaths, Lajovic seemed to wonder what had happened in a first set worthy of the one he came out with a 6-1 adverse. He had done enough of what could be required of him, but without succeeding in winning a single of his services and unable to argue on the scoreboard with a tennis player who exhibited his extraordinary physical strength and consummate skills on the clay.
While Novak Djokovic needed a tiebreaker to overcome his compatriot Filip Krajinovic, feeling the first difficulties in the surface transition, Nadal maintains his comfortable transition through the tournament, once again showing, as it happened before Carreño, the effectiveness of the crossed backhand. Lajovic narrowed the gap in the second set, after finally succeeding in defending his serve. So far it went.
Nadal gritted his teeth and left the faint hint of reaction to nothing. No one would say that he went 200 days without competing. This Saturday, not before 8:30 p.m., televised by Movistar Deportes, he will seek the semifinals against Argentine Diego Schwartzman, whom he has beaten in his nine clashes, leaving only two seats on the road.