Sunday, May 30, 2010


Rafael Nadal of Spain serves during the men's singles quarter final match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Nicolas Almagro of Spain at the French Open on day eleven of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 2, 2010 in Paris, France. Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe

This is my second post regarding Rafa at Roland Garros.

I will be updating this post, as I had been doing with wishing-rafa-nadal-best-at-roland garros

Rafa Nadal defested Robin Soderling
6-4, 6-2, 6-4
Sunday, June 6, 2010
9:00 a.m. USA EDT
Court Philippe Chatrier

JUNE 6, 2010

Regarding Semi Final with Rafa: NBC didn't show any of Rafa's on-court interview, signing the camera lens, signing after match autographs and great after-match commentary, however these online sites had their own after-match extras including some of these things:



In the Roland Garras 2010 locker room


Rafa Nadal defeated Jurgen Melzer
6-2, 6-3, 7-5 (8-6)
Friday, June 4, 2010
Court Philippe Chatrier
Rafa's match is the second match
The first match begins 7:00 a.m. USA EDT
NBC unfortunately is showing match at 11:00 a.m. USA EDT
Showing oline for free

Rafa Nadal defeated Nicolas Almagro
7-6 (2), 7-6 (3), 6-4
Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - the day before Rafa's birthday
Court Philippe Chatrier
39 Pictures

Check out Rafa's blog posts at timesonline

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates during the men's singles quarter final match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Nicolas Almagro of Spain at the French Open on day eleven of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 2, 2010 in Paris, France. Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates winning match point during the men's singles quarter final match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Nicolas Almagro of Spain at the French Open on day eleven of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 2, 2010 in Paris, France. Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe
Round 4
Rafa Nadal Thomaz Bellucci
Monday, May 31, 2010
Court Philippe Chatrier
6-2, 7-5, 6-4
Interview - Rafa is adorable

The Tennis Channel website has a free download
in order to view live matches on their website:

French Open Streaming

and their are archived matches there also.

Some examples:

Rafa's Saturday match is NOT there however. Blame NBC.

[2]Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. [24]Thomaz Bellucci (BRA)

[2]Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Horacio Zeballos (ARG)

[2]Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Gianni Mina (FRA)

Highlights, Interviews and Bagchecks at
Check out Rafa's Bagcheck - he's adorable

Possible online viewing (for free)



Fan Support Sites ~ Great sources of information

vamos brigade

Rafa's Babolat-sponsored forum

Roland Garros.
Scores and Schedule
tv schedule
USA coverage
NBC - Ugh!
ESPN - Ugh!
Tennis Channel


Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates a point during the men's singles fourth round match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil at the French Open on day nine of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 31, 2010 in Paris, France.
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe

Round 3
Rafa Nadal defeated Lleyton Hewitt
6-3, 6-4, 6-3
Saturday, May 29, 2010)
Time of Spain (same as Paris) on my sidebar
More pictures

NBC - like CBS other tournaments - did us wrong today. They didn't even show Rafa's match until the second set at 2-2. Then, they cut away to other matches most of the time. The Tennis Channel website wasn't allowed to show a live stream, obviously because of NBC's exclusive contract. And I just checked - of all the Saturday matches that are archived at The Tennis Channel website - Rafa and Lleyton's isn't there.

I watched Rafa and Lleyton's match at www.fromsport.com
FromSport also showed Rafa's on court interview. The networks almost NEVER show them. Network tv is the pits for tennis viewing.

Click image to enlarge
Rafael Nadal of Spain serves during the men's singles third round match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Lleyton Hewitt of Australia at the French Open on day seven of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 29, 2010 in Paris, France. (May 28, 2010 - Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe

Round 2
Rafa Nadal defeated Horacio Zeballos
6-2, 6-2, 6-3
Friday, May 28, 2010

Rafael Nadal of Spain serves during the men's singles second round match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina at the French Open on day six of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 28, 2010 in Paris, France.
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe


The Tennis Channel website has a free download
in order to view live matches on their website:

French Open Streaming

and their are archived matches there also.

Some examples:

[2]Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Horacio Zeballos (ARG) May 28, 2010

[2]Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Gianni Mina (FRA)

[2]Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. [24]Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) May 31, 2010

[2]Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. [19]Nicolas Almagro (ESP) June 2, 2010

Highlights, Interviews and Bagchecks at
Check out Rafa's Bagcheck - he's adorable

Possible online viewing (for free)



Fan Support Sites ~ Great sources of information

vamos brigade

Rafa's Babolat-sponsored forum

Roland Garros.
Scores and Schedule
tv schedule
USA coverage
NBC - Ugh!
ESPN - Ugh!
Tennis Channel


May 30, 2010
Source: www.timesonline.co.uk

Service with a smoulder

Rafael Nadal, 23, on winning, losing and the family that means everything to him

The time I get up depends on what time Im playing. Today I had practice at 1, so I got up around 10. I shower, get dressed. For breakfast I have hot chocolate, a croissant or toast with olive oil, and some fruit. Never coffee or tea I dont like them.

After breakfast I go to the sports arena and warm up with my coach, my uncle Toni. I practise from 1 to 3, then have another shower and lunch. What I eat depends on the country Im in, but often it will be pasta, fish and salad. I dont cook much, maybe some pasta. When Im away on tour I might make my grandmothers cake its a typical Majorcan cake, her own special recipe. I love chocolate, especially milk chocolate. I eat it every day. I love Nutella, too, and crisps and biscuits. There are some salty Majorcan biscuits called Quely, and I always take a supply with me.

I was four when I started playing tennis, very young. Thats when my uncle Toni gave me my first racket. I won my first tournament when I was eight. Ive always loved sport and Ive always been competitive Ill compete at anything.

On a match day I start to prepare at least an hour before I play. I get my fingers and feet taped to protect them from blisters, then change into my kit and warm up, listening to my iPod Spanish pop music or classical music. If Im playing someone I know, well chat maybe half an hour before we go on court. But not 10 minutes before by then all Im thinking about is the game.

My personality is relaxed. During a tournament Im really calm, because Im focused. I have a routine: practise and play its easy. But when I go home to Majorca, I cant relax. I want to do so much because I dont spend enough time there. I want to see my friends, my family, go to the gym, play tennis. And I love golf Ill play for hours. I go fishing, watch football, see movies. And I swim in the sea, which is next to my house. I want to do everything, but its impossible; the days are too short.

Ive won a lot of money, but Im lucky, I live with my family in Majorca and Im happy how I am. I dont need anything else. I never like to be alone, so I like friends and family to visit me during tournaments and I never travel alone.

Late afternoon, back at the hotel, I have physiotherapy for two hours. Each day I do stretches and have a massage. Some part of the body always needs attention. Last year I had tendonitis in both knees. Im getting better, but it was hard, after practising so much, that I had to miss tournaments, especially Wimbledon. But you accept it and try to recover as fast as possible.

I feel pressure, for sure. The biggest stress for most players is that the seasons too long. It starts in January and finishes in November no time to rest. Second worst is the ranking thats a lot of pressure every week. But Ive got more experienced at coping.

Sometimes Im angry or unhappy on court, but I have to control myself. Im not a very negative person. Mental strength is part of my personality and it comes from my parents dedication to me and from my uncle, my coach. Living in a small town in Majorca, families are closer than they are in big cities. My friends are still the ones I was at school with, from when I was six years old. These are the people I go out to dinner with, to parties with.

On tour I always leave the hotel and go out to dinner. If I go to a restaurant with friends, Ill wear jeans and T-shirt, or a jacket if its a less casual place. I like Japanese, Italian and Spanish food, and I love seafood. I only drink alcohol when I have a few weeks off and Im out with friends. But I dont drink much.

I call my family every night. Win or lose, my mother tells me to take care and sends me a kiss. Then I watch TV or a movie. One of the last films I saw was Avatar. Ive been watching the DVDs of Prison Break and Lost. Theres also a Spanish series I watch, called Los Serrano. Its a drama about two families.

If Im watching a movie and its emotional, Ill cry. Its not difficult for me to cry. If I see a sports person win something important, Ill cry. When I win a match I might cry too. But I dont often cry when I lose. When I lose I go straight home to Majorca, every time.

I feel very lucky to be where I am today. To be famous is sometimes not that good, but it changes nothing in my life, though it may make things a little more showy. People ask me what its like having lots of girls after me, but I didnt realise there were so many. Sometimes I like the glamour, but Ive always been down-to-earth, pretty normal. At home nobody treats me any differently.

I go to bed between midnight and 2am. Six years ago, maybe, Id be thinking about the next days match before I went to sleep, and that would keep me awake. Now I focus on watching a DVD in bed and I fall asleep while its playing. I have lots of dreams all very different and I always sleep well

Rafael Nadal competes in the Aegon Championships at the Queens Club, London, June 7-13; www.aegonchampionships.com

Rafa is blogging also at elmundo in Spanish

Rafa's blog post #7 - Times Online

Sunday, May 31, 2010

Rafa's Blog: sorry I couldn't sign all your autographs

Click here to e-mail a question to Rafa

Hello everyone.

One more day goes by and as I mentioned yesterday, already in the second week. The competition started last Sunday but now the competition gets really difficult. I am playing on Monday for a spot in the quarter-finals and that is something important. I have been saying I have not been playing really well, but again, I practiced really well today so I am happy.

After practice I had to go to see some clients of Richard Mille, yes the watch I wear now and that is really great. My manager Carlos Costa asked me to go and since we finished in a good time and they were there I came to their lounge. I was going to stay there only for 10 mins after saying hello to the people there.

But they had a pretty big screen with the Formula One race on it and they also had some good fish for lunch so we decided to stay there and have lunch while watching the end of the race. Pretty good atmosphere.

I am sorry though for all those fans that were waiting outside to get an autograph. It is really difficult. I would love to sign all of them, specially to those little kids that wait and wait to get one. Hopefully their parents will explain to them how difficult is to sign all of them.

Then I came back to the hotel and played some Play Station with Marc Lopez sometimes my doubles partner in tennis and hopefully my partner doing the karaoke tomorrow, Rafa Maymo and my PR Manager Benito Perez-Barbadillo. Me and Benito are playing better and we managed to defeat them... The competition still goes on!

Rafa answers fans' questions

Do you get to watch the junior Spanish players in action? Do you think Spanish tennis will still be strong in the continuing future?

Rafa: Not really since they play on the outside courts and it is quite difficult for me to get there. Spanish tennis has been strong in the past 25 years so I am sure that it will continue like this.

Bon día Rafa from El Toro, Mallorca. I have a very ridiculous question for you! I am totally fascinated by your speed...not just during a point, but I cannot believe how quickly you are able to pick yourself up when taking a tumble on the clay. Is that a natural reaction, or is it something that you have to practise? We hope you bring the Coupe de Mousquetaires back to Mallorca this year. Best of luck!

Rafa: Moltes gracies. THe physical condition has a lot to do with that so you ned to work on that.

Hello! I just read that you watch Lost and since I love that show I wonder: Did you get to watch the final episode or still haven't? Plus, who is your favourite character? Thanks from Puerto Rico and I love the colors you're wearing on Roland Garros. Vamos y éxito!
Yaritza from Puerto Rico

Rafa: I haven't seeing it yet. I watch it on DVD so I suppose that I have to wait a bit. You are going to have to guess my favorite character... yeap, that's the one!

Hi Rafa, I'm a big fan and I think you're an amazing player and also a great human being! My question is: Do you have any plans of going to college/university after you retire from tennis? Do you take any classes now? What are your future plans? Good luck!
Rukmani (from Munich)

Rafa: Right now I am focusing on my tennis career and I am not really thinking on what comes after tennis. I will decide these thing further on my career.

Hola Rafa, you mentioned in your on court interview that you used to watch Lleyton Hewitt when you were younger. Have you ever found it more difficult to play someone like that, someone you grew up watching. Others players that come to mind are Agassi (before retiring) and Ferrero.

Rafa: It is funny since I got asked that question today having lunch with some friends here in Roland Garros. I used to watch Moya, Ferrero, Agassi, Hewitt and except for Sampras I played against all of them.

Hola Rafa, I wanted to ask you if you were the president of Real Madrid, what would be your first decision? Congratulations on having such an amazing clay season; you've made me a very happy and proud fan! Muchas gracias and good luck for RG Campeon!!
Manahil, Pakistan

Rafa: Thankfully I don't have that title or position so I prefer to leave it to Mr. Perez to do his own things...

Hi Rafa, you are my favourite tennis player and I want to wish you the best of luck at RG - you are playing great. When you are playing at the Slams do you prefer to stay in the hotels or in a house like you do at Wimbledon? Many thanks!
Arlene McLean, UK

Rafa: Many thanks. This is a very good question. I like staying at a house in Wimbledon since there are not many hotels nearby. But have to say that at the other slams the hotels are very good and I enjoy staying there. KInd of less work also and I can focus more on my tennis, not on my bed, room and kitchen

Rafa's blog post #6

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Everything's getting better in Paris - except the weather

Hi everyone,

It is raining! But really raining hard. I am writing this post and the water that comes down is amazing here in Paris. Thank God it is happening now and not before or during the match. If that would have happened, that would have meant that I would have had to play again today!

Anyway, into our business. Some of you that follow tennis and that watch the match yesterday might ask if I am playing my best tennis. I think I ended really well today and I have good sensations. I have not been playing great, but today I felt towards the end of the match I was in control of my game and especially my forehand. Just to say, bottom line, that I am feeling better and better. I don't know why these things happen. I mean, I have been playing great in Monte Carlo, especially there, in Rome and at some point in Madrid. Then I get to Paris and my practices are good, but once I am playing matches, then I have not been playing well...strange. But I have to say that it has also happened in 2008 where I feel I played at my best here in Paris.

Today I am practising at 1 so that gives me time to sleep well and rest more than during these past three or four days. I will practise for one hour and a half and then I have a quick promotional activity with my new sponsor, the famous Richard Mille. Lot of talking about that lately and to be honest, that thing of the comments of the price of the watch makes me feel uncomfortable. Believe me, I am not pricing the watch, and that it is really an amazing watch.


Rafa answers fans' questions

How do you usually celebrate your birthday? Mine is also the 3rd of June! Vamos Rafa!
Assel from Kazakhstan

Rafa says: I have celebrated my birthday four times in Paris in the last five years. Obviously last year it was the only one that I had the chance to celebrate it at home. And to be honest I would have preferred to have been in Paris...Anyway, that's the past. I normally go out for dinner with my team and the family here in Paris.

My question is about the change in the strings for your racket. Will you be using the new strings in grass too?

Rafa says: Nope, same ones!

Novak did the parody of the "Gypsy" video for the jukebox segment. Have you seen it yet? What are your thoughts on it? I hope we still get to see you duet with Marc! Best of luck for the rest of the tourney! VAMOS! :)
Julz, Philippines

Rafa says: I have seen it. No problem. But I have to say that previous things were funnier! Hopefully Marc will do it!

Hi Rafa, my friends and I are big fans of yours, good luck at Roland Garros. We were wondering, in a match, just before service, a player is given three balls. Then they look at them, and then drop one and use the other two. Why is that? What do you choose between? Thanks!
Love Jasmine

Rafa says: I try to chose the faster one for the first serve.

I don't know how you remain patient with some of the silly questions asked to you at your post match press conferences! So I have a silly question, but hopefully one you've not heard before...It was the Eurovision Song Contest this weekend, do you ever watch it? Spain's entry is not the best this year, I'm afraid! My friends and I are having a party for it so I'm going to attempt to cook paella to go with the European theme! Good luck with the rest of Roland Garros!
Kirsty, UK

Rafa says: I have not watched it to be honest.

You have had epic battles with Roger Federer over the years. Do you now feel that everyone expects a five-set marathon every time you play together? How do you cope with the pressure? Keeping fingers crossed for you for this tournament! Bueno Suerte!
Lawrence Head from Leicestershire

Rafa says: I am sure that everyone expects a great match. I would love to be back in the final here and if Roger is the opponent, more than happy. The important thing is to be in the final and for that there is still a long way to go!

Rafa, you truly amaze me in so many ways - you are such an inspiration! My question - Can you remember the longest rally you have ever played? How many shots? Good luck - really looking forward to seeing some entertaining tennis from you as always and great to have you blogging.
Kim, Australia

Rafa says: Not really. I have had some long ones over the years...

What trophy do you like the best, aesthetically speaking?

Rafa says: I would say... Wimbledon?!?!???!!?!?!

Hola, Rafa! You are a fantastic guy. I enjoy watching you playing very much. When I watched the tie-break quiz videos on atpworldtour.com, it really amazed me that a lot of players could remember the exact scores of the matches they played long time ago. Can you do that? For example, can you still remember the score when you defeated Coria in Rome in 2005? Thank you. Good luck for the rest of the season. I'd like to see you in Shanghai this October.
Marjorie, Shanghai

Rafa says: Many thanks. Sure, I remember almost all of them. Against Coria it was one of the best and the most exciting I ever played. The final score was 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(6)!

Rafa's blog post #5

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Early to bed and early to rise at the French Open

Hi everyone,

Quite a good day today. It started very early for what we normally do since I left for the tournament site at 8am. Had my warm up at 8.45am which is a very early time to hit normally. The problem for me was to go to sleep - to get to sleep rather. I normally go to sleep around 12.30 and 1 am and so yesterday I decided not to go out for dinner, had some room service and go

So had an early match which is also good since we finished pretty early. With press conference and a promotional act I did for IBATUR (Balearic Islands Tourism Board) at the tournament I was practically done by 3.30 pm. That is also very early for my standards. Other players spend less time on-site but I normally spend a lot of hours.

I have to say it was good to be back early. I got some rest in the afternoon and went for dinner with my team also early. Tomorrow I am playing again, something not common either at Grand Slams, so wanted to take things in an easy way.

Goodnight and thanks,


Rafa answers fans' questions

I heard Toni voted for Bjorn Borg as the best clay court player ever on a survey by L'Equipe. I think he's wrong and you are the best. What do you think?
Vanessa, London

Rafa: I don't know, really. I am sure he feels bad voting for me, it looks strange to vote for your nephew, I suppose. You should ask Toni actually.

What did you think of Novak and Troicki impersonating you and Shakira?
Kim, London

Rafa: I haven't seen it yet. I suppose it is funny...

I am a very happy tennis and basketball fan, with you playing so well and the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA play-offs. Have you been in touch with Pau Gasol and are you hoping he wins another championship? Aly

Rafa: I am many times in touch with him and I hope they win!

Sometimes you have to play against players you do not know, like Gianni Mina and Horacio Zeballos. Do you face these kind of matches in a different way then against players you have played for so many years now?
Ana, Madrid

Rafa: Not really. I always try to play my game on these occasions.

You always come across as such a modest person and enjoy your privacy. How do you manage to cope with all the attention you get?

Rafa: It is part of the life I have and I try to be nice to everyone. Why change?

What you are thinking as you prepare to serve each time?
Beth, USA

Rafa: On where to put it, how to do it, speed, angle...

Why do you always bite the trophy? Why don't you kiss it like the other players?
Rose Dakin

Rafa: I always did it since I won my first tournament.

Do you have any plans to come and see any games at the World Cup?
Carmen Campbell, South Africa

Rafa: I am afraid I won't be able to come but I'll watch it on TV.

Apart from Spain who else will you support at the World Cup?
Lola Myme

Rafa: We'll see.

I really enjoyed watching you and Federer play doubles at the charity matches for Haiti earlier this year. Will we ever see you and Roger play a doubles event together in a tournament? I think you two would be unbeatable together.
Olivia, New Zealand

Rafa: I don't know; I am sure at some point we will play.

Rafa's blog post #4

Friday, May 28, 2010

Hello everyone

I suppose most of you are saying the same thing as I am. I did mention yesterday the risk of not playing today, well, in the end it was worst than expected. I couldn't play as I thought I wouldn't be able to do but the weather was worse than they told us and most of the matches couldn't be even started. This means that tomorrow I am playing early and if I win I would play again on Saturday. Not ideal but always better than playing tomorrow and going back home after ...

I have to say that these days in tennis are kind of the worst. Not much to do, just wait, wait, more wait, play some cards in the locker room and continue waiting. Terrible. Clearly there are worst things in life but for a professional event and for the spectators who paid money to be here and watch tennis is not the best.

Tomorrow I am going pretty early to the tournament at 8am and get ready for an early match. Something that I am not used to but something equal to both players. No complaints.


Rafa answers fans' questions

Click here to e-mail a question to Rafa

Hola Rafa, I am thinking of learning to play tennis after years of watching. What advice/tips can you give me to get me started? Clare

RN: The first thing is to enjoy, to have fun and be patient with your improvement.

Dude, you have the coolest gear on tour. How is your wardrobe picked for each tournament? Jorge, Miami FL

RN: It is picked way in advance. We decide it with Nike months before.

Hola Rafa, congratulations on your victory over Gianni Mina. Did it feel a little strange to wear a watch for the first time during a match, or did you not notice any difference than usual? Thanks a million and good luck. Niamh in Ireland

RN: Not really since I had been practicing for a long time now. It has been almost two years since we started working on it and I have been practicing for some months now. It is not that I started on Tuesday with it.

Hi Rafa, you are ALWAYS being photographed on the receiving end of a camera - do you enjoy taking photos yourself and do you take photos of the tournaments you visit so that you can look back on them in future years? Thank you for bringing excitement back into the land of tennis! Sandra

RN: Not really but it is a good idea. Will start I suppose. Thanks for the tip.

You're playing with new strings this year and, to my untrained eye, it seems you might be hitting the ball harder and longer. What was the aim of the new strings and do you think they're working for you? Vamos for Roland Garros! Rachel from Berkhamsted

RN: Yes, absolutely.

Hi Rafa, it's so good to have you blogging and answering questions again, I really look forward to it, muchas gracias! Do you have any dreams or ambitions, not related to tennis, something you'd love to do but haven't done yet? Juliette Westbrook-Finch

RN: Many thanks for your comments. I don't really have these kind of dreams. I think more every day on my goals instead and work hard to achieve them.

Hi Rafa, I would like to know if sometimes you ever have to sit back and pinch yourself to try and comprehend what you have achieved so far in your career? Taryn, Australia

RN: I suppose I will do that in the future but definitely not now.

Greetings from Serbia! If you had a chance to choose any court in any tournament to be named after you which one would that be? The one from Monte Carlo? Thanks and good luck at RG! Marija

RN: Not sure I deserve that honor. I am too young.

Click here to e-mail a question to Rafa

Nadal cruises, sets up clash with Hewitt

Friday, May 28, 2010
By Nyree Epplett

Source: www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/news/articles

Also at the above link can be found Rafa's presser

In another clinical display, King of Clay Rafael Nadal booked his third round berth at Roland Garros early on Friday, sweeping aside Argentina's Horacio Zeballos in straight sets 6-2, 6-2, 6-3.

The four-time champion, who has lost only one match ever here at Roland Garros, won the battles of the lefties on a sun-drenched Philippe Chatrier court, closing out his opponent in one hour, 45 minutes to set up a clash with Aussie No28 seed Lleyton Hewitt.

The match was a study in opposites. Hot favourite Nadal, seeded No2 and with an intimidating track record on clay of 197 wins and 16 losses, (32-1 at Roland Garros) versus the improving yet inexperienced 44-ranked Argentine, playing only his third Grand Slam singles event and first ever French Open.

Voted the ATP Newcomer of the Year in 2009, Zeballos is armed with a similar game style to the Spanish phenom, including a huge forehand that he can whip cross court or down the line at will. But it was his lack of game plan, poor shot selection and failure to execute on the big points that would prove fatal today, together with an unforgivable unforced error tally (23 in total). And let’s not forget the fact he was playing arguably the world’s best clay courter and a man who has not lost a match on red dirt this year – having become the first player to claim all three of the clay ATP Masters 1000 titles at Monte Carlo, Rome and Madrid in a 15-match winning streak.

Nadal drew first blood in the fourth game of the first set, breaking Zeballos with a stunning inside-out forehand winner to steam ahead 3-1. He continually punished Zeballos' high-bouncing drop shots and broke the Argentine again at 5-2, sealing the opener with two consecutive screaming forehand winners – cross court and down-the-line. He closed out the second set in similar style, 6-2 care of another two service breaks, and sealed with a Zeballos unforced backhand error.

The pair traded service breaks in the final set, but the final result never looked in doubt, the Spaniard taking the match at the first opportunity, after the Argentine netted a sitter. Nadal pummeled 23 winners past the Argentine during the encounter, and came to the net 21 times, winning the point on 16 occasions. The Spaniard believes he is improving with each match here, and also thinks he is a different player to what he was in 2005, when he captured his first title here.

“I played a little bit better, but not perfect. I didn't really play badly. I wouldn't say this was an exceptional match. It was a normal type of match. I didn't have enough rhythm," said the Majorcan after the match. "Probably I am running like I did in 2005, 2006. I can win a lot of matches without run crazy all the time, so that's a big improvement… But I think I am serving better, I have a better backhand, a little bit better forehand, too. I have the position on court much better than 2005.”

Nadal now faces the No28 seed and former World No1 Lleyton Hewitt in the next round, after the Aussie survived a five-set slugfest against Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin on Court No7 to win 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2. The last time the two met was here last year (also in the third round), with Rafa posting an easy victory 6-1, 6-3, 6-1. The Spaniard has beaten the Aussie in five of their nine matches (including the last four in a row), but is certainly not taking the clash lightly, saying: “we know Hewitt. He's a very dangerous guy and he plays at a very high level. He's going to do his best to win, of course.”

The Aussie was even more down-to-earth than his rival: "He cleaned me up last few times. He's obviously very dominant, especially on this surface. I'm gonna have to go out there and execute what I want to do, and do it bloody well." Sound advice for anyone playing Nadal on clay.

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