'Unheard of': Rafa Nadal continues incredible 21-year tennis feat

·3-min read
Rafa Nadal (pictured) thanks the Italian Open crowd after defeating John Isner.
Rafa Nadal (pictured) defeated John Isner to make sure he has never lost two clay court games in a row throughout his illustrious career. (Getty Images)

Rafa Nadal has bounced back from his loss at the Madrid Open to remind everyone to never write off the 13-time Roland Garros champion.

Nadal swept aside American John Isner 6-3, 6-1 in a dominant performance, which meant he kept an incredible clay court record in check.

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The Spaniard has now improved to 44-0 in matches following a loss on his favourite surface, which means he has never lost two matches in a row on clay.

But the biggest takeaway from the match was Nadal's gradual return to form.

Nadal was playing his first tournament back from a rib stress fracture when he lost to Carlos Alcaraz in the quarter-final in Madrid.

And a win against a tough opponent will only build his confidence.

Nadal struggled on his serve at 3-3 in the first set, missing a forehand into the net then double-faulting to set up break points for Isner.

But the American made unforced errors on both of his break-point opportunities and Nadal eventually held.

Rafael Nadal (pictured) in action at the match against John Isner at the Internazionali BNL D'Italia 2022.
Rafael Nadal (pictured) in action at the match against John Isner at the Internazionali BNL D'Italia 2022. (Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/vi/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

In the following game, Nadal broke Isner's serve when the beanpole American missed a comfortable forehand volley into the net. Nadal then held at love to close out the first set and broke Isner's serve in the opening game of the second.

And while he would love to add a 10th Italian Open title to his record, the Spaniard clearly has one goal in mind.

And that is winning a 22nd grand slam title at Roland Garros.

Rafa Nadal rushes to practice courts after win

Showing the determination of the Spaniard even at the age of 35, when the match finished, Nadal headed straight to the practice court to hit more balls.

He explained that he's a "bit in a rush" to find his best form as soon as possible.

"I need to work as much as I can," Nadal said. "The match today was not that demanding physically."

The Spaniard is set to take on the hard-hitting Denis Shapovalov.

The pair played out an epic five-setter at the Australian Open this year, and Nadal also came from behind to defeat the Canadian at the Italian Open last year.

"Super lucky," Nadal said, reflecting back to playing Shapovalov last year.

"I know how dangerous he is. I need to play better than today."

with AAP

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