Paris, France (Sports Network) - Seven-time champion Rafael Nadal surprisingly
needed four sets to win his first-round match Monday, while oft-injured
Frenchman Gael Monfils upended fifth seed Tomas Berdych on Day 2 at the French
The reigning three-time winner and third-seeded Nadal had his hands full with
6-foot-5 Daniel Brands, but the clay-court king from Spain fought back to beat
his German counterpart 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, 6-3 in 2 hours, 54 minutes on
Court Chatrier at Stade Roland Garros.
Brands was up a set and led 3-0 in the second-set tiebreak before Nadal
mounted his comeback. The Spanish great won seven of the final eight points in
the tiebreak and handled things from there.
Playing his first Grand Slam match in 11 months, Nadal broke Brands three
times, while the German settled for only one break in defeat on a day when he
was both striking the ball really well and serving big.
The 11-time Grand Slam singles titlist and former world No. 1 Nadal beat
current top-ranked star Novak Djokovic in last year's French Open finale.
Nadal is now a brilliant 37-2 this year, including trips into finals in all
eight of his events and 16 straight wins on clay. The mighty Mallorcan is
seeking his seventh title of the season.
Nadal's second-round opponent will be promising Slovak Martin Klizan.
In the match of the day, the 81st-ranked Monfils went the distance to oust the
former Wimbledon runner-up Berdych 6-7 (8-10), 4-6, 7-6 (7-6), 7-6 (7-4),
7-5 in 4 hours, 3 minutes. The big-hitting affair featured 26 aces by the
winner and only one service break by Berdych. Monfils broke his fellow former
French Open semifinalist three times en route to the big victory.
The 26-year-old former top-10 star Monfils, who was a clay-court runner-up in
Nice this past weekend, appeared in the quarterfinals in his last trip to
Roland Garros two years ago.
Meanwhile, sixth-seeded French crowd favorite and former Australian Open
runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga drilled helpless Slovenian Aljaz Bedene 6-2, 6-2,
6-3 and seventh-seeded French star Richard Gasquet erased Ukrainian Sergiy
Stakhovsky 6-1, 6-4, 6-3.
In other action involving top-16 seeds, No. 10 Marin Cilic of Croatia whipped
German Philipp Petzschner 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, struggling No. 11 Spaniard Nicolas
Almagro overcame Austrian Andreas Haider-Maurer, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, and No.
13 Kei Nishikori of Japan crushed Canadian Jesse Levine 6-3, 6-2, 6-0.
Italian Fabio Fognini, seeded 27th at this fortnight, defeated German Andreas
Beck 6-3, 7-5, 6-3; 30th-seeded quality Frenchman Julien Benneteau held off
Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (7-5); Feliciano Lopez
outlasted 31st-seeded fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 4-6,
6-4; and 32nd-seeded Spanish veteran Tommy Robredo cruised past Estonian
Jurgen Zopp 6-3, 6-2, 6-1.
American Ryan Harrison straight-setted Russian Andrey Kuznetsov 6-3, 6-4, 7-6
(7-4) to move on.
Some other opening-round winners were Klizan, France's Edouard Roger-Vasselin,
Czech Lukas Rosol, German Tobias Kamke, Dutchman Igor Sijsling, and 18-year-
old Aussie Nick Kyrgios, who doused 34-year-old Czech Radek Stepanek 7-6
(7-4), 7-6 (10-8), 7-6 (13-11).
The Sports Network