PARIS (Reuters) - There were glimpses of the vintage Rafael Nadal as the Spaniard started his quest for a record-breaking 10th French Open title in merciless fashion, demolishing Australian Sam Groth 6-1 6-1 6-1 on Tuesday.
The fourth seed, who will play either Argentine Facundo Bagnis or French qualifier Kenny de Schepper in the second round, played flawless tennis, making only three unforced errors in a one-sided match.
Nadal, who turns 30 next week, has won two titles on clay this season, including the Monte Carlo Masters.
He ended his opponent’s misery with a trademark crosscourt forehand winner on his second match point on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
“It’s obvious that was a good start for me. The most important thing I had to do today was to return well and then I was playing with not many mistakes,” Nadal, who his first French Open title in 2005, told a news conference.
“I think it’s obvious that the opponent plays better on faster surfaces.”
While he served 10 aces, Groth also made nine double faults as he failed to unsettle a rock-solid Nadal under threatening skies.
Nadal used his usual powerful top-spin to overwhelm his opponent who did not get a single break point.
“It was a fast match, fortunately I managed to break him very quickly,” said Nadal, who last year was beaten in the quarter-finals by Novak Djokovic, whom he could face in the last-four this season.
“It was important because against such an opponent it’s not easy to take his serve. He wanted to put pressure upon my shoulders,” the Spaniard added.
“It was difficult for me to break him, but for him it was also difficult to break me. So I had to maintain some pressure. We could have reached 3-3, 4-4, and if it had been the case, things would have been made difficult for me.”
Editing by Ed Osmond