By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) – Claycourt master Rafael Nadal quickly adapted to the new surroundings at Roland Garros with a 6-2 6-1 6-3 demolition of German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann in the first round of the French Open on Monday.
On a revamped Court Philippe Chatrier, the 11-times champion wasted little time in despatching Hanfmann after the German had the audacity to say in the run up to the match that he could do ‘some damage’.
Nadal will next meet another qualifier, German Yannick Maden.
Hanfmann failed to seize potential opportunities as Nadal, who usually starts slowly at Roland Garros, limited his unforced errors to 11.
The quest for perfection has always defined Nadal and the win improved his Roland Garros record to a remarkable 87-2. The Spaniard is hoping to become the first player to win the same Grand Slam title 12 times.
“What I did during all my career probably is go on court with the goal to improve something, and that makes me feel alive always and makes me feel passionate about the process of improving anything,” the second seed explained.
After suffering consecutive semi-final exits in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid this season, questions were asked about Nadal’s form heading into his favorite Grand Slam.
He answered many of those doubts by beating rival Novak Djokovic to win the Italian Open title in Rome, but even that was not enough to convince Nadal that he was ready for Paris.
“It’s very difficult to be convinced that you’re okay. I don’t know if many people are convinced about anything in this life,” he said.
“I think when you’re convinced about something, you’re very arrogant, because most of the time you can hope that something is going to happen, and have the desire for something to happen.
“But to be convinced, I’m almost convinced about nothing in this world.”
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Pritha Sarkar and Toby Davis)