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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, October 2, 2020

Rafael Nadal

Reigning champion Rafael Nadal demolished Stefano Travaglia 6-1, 6-4, 6-0 to reach the Roland Garros round of 16 for the 15th time.

Photo credit: Roland Garros Facebook

The only tennis task tougher than beating Rafael Nadal on clay is conquering the King of Clay after a dirt defeat.

That’s been the challenge confronting opponents of the 12-time Roland Garros champion this week.

More: Korda, Gaston Send Shockwaves Through Roland Garros

The results have been predictably painful.

Following his surprising Rome loss last month, Nadal has unleashed a power surge in the city of light.

Today, Nadal demolished Stefano Travaglia 6-1, 6-4, 6-0 to reach the Roland Garros round of 16 for the 15th time.

It is Nadal’s 96th win in 98 career French Open matches as he improved to 44-0 through the first three rounds in Paris.

Losing isn’t part of Nadal’s Roland Garros game-plan.

Accepting the danger of defeat sharpens the second-seeded Spaniard’s competitive edge.

Nadal converted six of seven break points and won 14 of 17 points played on his second serve in a dominant 95-minute victory. Unleashing his fierce forehand, Nadal won eight of 23 games at love.

Through three tournament victories, Nadal has not permitted a set surrendering just 19 games and dropping serve only once.

“I just go on court every single day knowing I can lose,” Nadal said. “If I am playing well, I can win. Today I played against an opponent that he was playing I think very well, playing a very good tournament in Rome, and already here winning two good matches against Pablo Andujar and against Nishikori.

“I went on court with the highest respect, just with the goal to play my best. I think, as I say before, I make a step forward in a lot of ways. I think he played a great second set, was close. I was able to find a way, yeah. Happy for that.”

The 19-time Grand Slam champion continues his quest for his 13th Roland Garros crown to equal Roger Federer's major mark by winning his 20th Grand Slam title.

While the scoreboard screams command, Nadal is downplaying his dominance through week one so far.

“I don't feel that I am that dominant,” Nadal said. “The result says, but the game is another story. Every single match is a challenge.”

The next challenge is American qualifier Sebastian Korda, son of 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda, who swept qualifier Pedro Martinez 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.

Tennis Express

The 20-year-old Korda is the first qualifier to reach the last 16 at Roland Garros since Alejandro Falla in 2011. And at world No. 213, Korda is the first man ranked outside the Top 200 to reach the round of 16 at Roland Garros since No. 283 Arnaud di Pasquale made the fourth round in 2002.

Informed Korda named his cat “Rafa” in his idol’s honor, Nadal deadpanned “happy to hear that.”

“Well, that means that I have been on the TV for such a long time, that's the main thing,” Nadal said. “The same like when I was a kid, I was watching Sampras, Agassi, Carlos Moya, et cetera, et cetera, no? Another negative thing that mean is that I am 34 (laughter).

“That's another point that is not beautiful. But, yeah, happy to hear that. I know he's playing great. He's a very young kid with a lot of power. I think he has an amazing future—hopefully not yet.”


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