French Open: Rafael Nadal torches Sam Groth in opener

Nine-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal defeated the big-serving Australian Sam Groth, 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 needing just 80 minutes to down the Aussie. Nadal was in control and looked like a 14-time Grand Slam champion throughout his first-round match; he improved to 71-2 in his career on the red dirt of Roland Garros.

Nadal Grinds to Early Break

This match started out how most probably would expect when going up against a player who is capable of serving well over 150 mph. Groth’s record, although not recognized by the ATP because it was during a Challenger event, is actually 163.4 mph.

The Aussie began this match serving and immediately used his best weapon to get on the board. In the opening game, Groth served two aces and a few other impressive serves to hold serve at 15.

Immediately following Nadal held at love, in large part to Groth making a number of errors. The Spaniard was not tested and this allowed him to build up the confidence necessary to challenge the Aussie.

Groth’s Serve Becomes a Liability

Knotted at one apiece the tides shifted in Nadal’s favor, as they seemingly do a lot at Roland Garros. The Spaniard started returning serve just enough to cause Groth to misplay the ball or find an open space in the court.

With help from a double-fault, Nadal found himself with two break points at 40-15. The Aussie got it back to deuce after an ace and forced error, but eventually succumbed the break after another double.

Nadal Torches Groth; Cruises to Victory

At this point, it was essentially over for Groth since Nadal had found his groove. The nine-time champion won 12 of the next 13 points to earn another break and stretch the lead to 5-1. In the seventh game of the set, it looked like the Aussie would hold serve up 40-15. Yet once again the serve let him down and he double faulted twice and eventually gave up another break and the set.

Rafael Nadal slaps a tweener up the line for a winner in his first round match victory at the 2016 French Open
Rafael Nadal slaps a tweener up the line for a winner in his first round victory over Sam Groth at the French Open
Photo Credit: Dennis Grombkowski | Getty Images

The match followed the blueprint of the first set throughout the final ball strike as Groth totalled nine doubles to 10 aces. He also failed to win more than 55 percent of his first serve points in either the second or third set, which is quite insane when his serve is as big as it is. In fact, the serve became such a struggle that Nadal managed to tally 50 percent of points won on the return in the third set.

On the offensive side, Nadal was nearly flawless winning 34 of 38 points on his first serve, six of seven on the second serve, powering 25 winners and making just three unforced errors. If Nadal is able to continue on this trajectory, he’ll be hoisting his tenth Coupe des Mousquetaires in no time.

The nine-time champion will take on Facundo Bagnis on Thursday in the second round of the tournament. The Argentine dismissed Frenchman Kenny de Schepper earlier.

Keep up with the other action from around the grounds of Roland Garros on VAVEL.

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