All seems normal as Nadal begins pursuit of No 10
By Martyn Herman
PARIS (Reuters) - The Eiffel Tower was still standing, the River Seine was flowing away to the sea, the traffic clogged the Peripherique and Rafa Nadal still ruled Roland Garros on Tuesday.
To all intents and purposes it was a normal day at the French Open as Nadal claimed victory number 67 since making his debut in the event in 2005.
It felt a little different though as the soon-to-be 29-year-old walked on to Court Phillipe Chatrier, the rectangle of red clay that has been the stage for his nine titles in a decade of unprecedented domination.
Such has been Nadal's malaise this year, with claycourt defeats piling up from Monte Carlo to Rome, the Spaniard arrived in Paris only second favorite to claim a record-extending 10th title.
Tasked with providing the first test of Nadal's supposed fragile confidence was French teenager Quentin Halys, a wildcard making his grand slam debut.
He did just that, pushing 14-times grand slam champion Nadal hard before succumbing 6-3 6-3 6-4.
Nadal often takes time to get fully into his stride at Roland Garros so Tuesday's one hour 50 minute workout offered few clues over the health of his game.
His racket was equipped with computer technology, meaning he can download statistics for later analysis. Continued...