ROME, (Reuters) – A ruthless Rafael Nadal demonstrated that he was primed to win back the French Open crown from Roger Federer when he whipped Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-1 6-3 in his opening match at the Rome Masters.
A day after the world number one had been felled at the first hurdle by Latvian Ernests Gulbis, Nadal left Kohlschreiber a punched out wreck yesterday as he began his charge towards a fifth Rome title in six years.
On Tuesday Federer was adamant that his Rome setback would have little impact on his chances of defending his Roland Garros crown as he still had a month to find his best tennis before the claycourt major.
But Nadal fired an early warning that he was once again ready to trample over anyone who stands in his way on his favourite surface after knee problems disrupted his 2009 season.
Nadal’s second-round display was not flawless but that provided little consolation for Kohlschreiber.
The four-time French Open winner had it all his own way in the first set, when Kohlschreiber did not help his cause with some wild forehands.
The German put up more resistance in the second set and had a break point in the sixth game.
But Nadal stood his ground before breaking serve twice to wrap things up and set up a third-round meeting with Romanian Victor Hanescu.
Swedish fifth-seed Robin Soderling, who handed Nadal his first ever defeat at the French Open last year, is on course to meet the Spaniard in the quarter-finals after dispatching Italian wild card Paolo Lorenzi 6-1 7-5.