Unstoppable Nadal marches on in Paris

Sat May 31, 2014 4:44pm EDT
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By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal once again showed he is the man to beat at the French Open after putting down a brief rebellion from Argentine Leonardo Mayer to win 6-2 7-5 6-2 and reach the fourth round despite a sore back on Saturday.

Mayer went for his shots in a tense second set and broke the world No.1 back for 4-4, only for the Spaniard to regain control in commanding fashion.

"It is for me very emotional thing when I am on (court Philippe) Chatrier, a lot of memories come to my mind," said Nadal, who made only 10 unforced errors with just two coming in a masterful opening set.

One moment that may live long in the memory occurred in the second set when the defending champion recovered after being wrongfooted by Mayer to pull off a perfect backhand lob to break decisively for a 6-5 lead.

He followed up with a game to love, sealing the set with a jaw-dropping forehand passing shot before steaming through the third and ending the contest with a service winner.

In the aftermath, Nadal revealed he was suffering with back pains, but would not be drawn on the details.

"Well, I'd rather not talk about my back. I'll play as best as I can. I'll put up a good fight to try and win," he said.

Nadal next faces Serbian Dusan Lajovic, who beat American Jack Sock 6-4 7-5 6-3 and, like the Spaniard, has yet to drop a set.   Continued...

Rafael Nadal of Spain acknowledges spectators after winning his men's singles match against Leonardo Mayer of Argentina at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris May 31, 2014.    REUTERS/Vincent Kessler