2017 French Open: Rafael Nadal begins title quest with devastating win over Benoit Paire

2017 French Open: Rafael Nadal begins title quest with devastating win over Benoit Paire

As he seeks a 10th Roland Garros championship, the Spaniard dismantled the talented, but erratic Frenchman in his opening round match.

John Lupo

Fourth seed Rafael Nadal looked in imperious form as he demolished Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 in just under two hours. The Spaniard is seeking his 15th Grand Slam championship and tenth in Paris.

Perfect start for Nadal

Coming into their first meeting in four years, Nadal had not dropped a set to the Frenchman and he looked in no mood to do so on the Suzanne Lenglen court. After a pair of easy holds, the king of clay achieved the first break in the fourth game when he sent a backhand down the line past a net-rushing Paire for a 3-1 lead.










After another easy hold, Nadal was able to get an insurance break when a Paire forehand flew well over the baseline, the set now all but decided at 5-1. He held to love, drawing a backhand error from his bewildered opponent on set point, winning it 6-1 in just 24 minutes.

Nadal takes two set lead

It seemed to be going all the fourth seed's way when he broke to start the second set, but Paire showed some fight, breaking right back, battling from 30-0 down on Nadal's serve and leveling when the nine-time champion missed a forehand wide. 

After saving two break points to hold, the flashy Frenchman broke his Spanish opponent for a second straight time, opening the game with a drop shot winner and, at 15-40, taking a 3-1 lead with a monster forehand that Nadal could only meekly send into the net on the return.










Nadal had an immediate response, breaking back to cut the deficit to 3-2 when Paire's crosscourt backhand was sent well wide. After a marathon eighth game that saw the Spaniard gut out a hold, he broke to hold with an impeccable forehand winner that kissed the line for a 5-4 lead. He summarily served out the set to 15 for a two-set lead.

Nadal closes out the match in style

With victory all but certain, the fourth seed put out his statement of intent with a battling break to open the third set. After squandering two break points, he finally broke when Paire sent a forehand wide and then called the trainer on the changeover to work on his left leg.

In the fifth game, Paire fell while chasing down a Nadal drop shot, barely avoiding crashing into the net. Clearly hampered, the Frenchman played a woeful drop shot, deservedly punished by the Spaniard and the lead grew to 4-1.










After one last hold, Nadal finished proceedings on his third match point with an overhead smash to advance in 1 hour, 54 minutes and set up a second round matchup with hard-hitting Dutchman Robin Haase.