RAFAEL NADAL SEES OFF TEENAGER GIANNI MINA IN PARIS
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Date: 23 May-6 June
Coverage: Live video streamed from 1000 BST on BBC Sport website (UK only) and BBC red button; commentary on BBC 5 live sports extra; also live on Eurosport; text commentary on BBC Sport website Details of BBC coverage
Nadal received a stiffer test than expected
By Piers Newbery
BBC Sport at Roland Garros
Rafael Nadal made a predictably triumphant return to Roland Garros with a straight-sets win over teenager Gianni Mina in the first round of the French Open.
The 23-year-old Spaniard began his quest for a fifth title at the home of clay-court tennis with 6-2 6-2 6-2 victory against France's world number 655.
Nadal suffered his first ever defeat at the French Open last year when he was upset by Robin Soderling in the fourth round, and he is keen to get back to winning Grand Slams having not done so since Australia 16 months ago. 606: DEBATE
Will Mina be a future Slam winner?
However, he had to wait until 4:11pm local time on day three to make his first appearance at this year's tournament as the organisers got full value out of the extra day's play they have over the other Grand Slams, by virtue of starting on Sunday.
The world number two also had to make do with the secondary, although more atmospheric, Court Suzanne Lenglen and his arrival was greeted by huge cheers from a Parisian crowd with whom he, like many others, has had his differences in the past.
It was in large part because he was up against a Frenchman – an 18-year-old playing only his second match at ATP level – but the home crowd were quick to jeer Nadal when he made their compatriot wait for the coin toss.
It was the briefest of disagreements, though, and Nadal drew plenty of support once play got under way, particularly as the opening stages were closer than expected.
Wildcard Mina forced break points in each of Nadal's service games in the opening set – seven in total – but he could not convert any and found himself on the wrong end of a double-break.
Nadal tightened up his game in the second set and gave away fewer chances, his heavy forehand keeping Mina at bay, and when the teenager failed to convert two more break points early in the third he had given his illustrious opponent one life too many.
http://www.nigerianbestforum.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/47924076_009377586-1.jpg I think he's a good player, he can play well in the future
Nadal on Mina
The four-time champion broke for the fifth time in the match for 2-1 and went on to wrap up a demanding but never threatening encounter in two hours and 23 minutes.
Nadal is a hard man to please, though, and afterwards he insisted: “I played really bad. I was practising really well but the first day here is always a little bit more nervous than usual and I think I played bad.
“I won without problems, so that's always a positive thing, but I think I can do much better than this.”
Asked what he knew about Mina beforehand, Nadal admitted: “Not much, I didn't know anything. I think he's a good player, he can play well in the future – he has a good serve and he's fast, that's important – and maybe from the baseline he can play well.”
And the suggestion that the tournament is his for the taking was given short shrift by the world number two.
“It's the fifth year in a row that I answer the same question and for me there is no favourite,” he said. “The favourites are the players who are going to be in the final in two Sundays.
“Right now, sure I'm one of the players that if I play my best tennis I'm going to have chances to play a good tournament, but other players think the same as me.”