ROME (AP) — Once is enough when it comes to beating Rafael Nadal on a clay court.
Throughout his career, Nadal has never lost consecutive matches on his favorite surface and the Spaniard extended that perfect record on Wednesday by beating
John Isner 6-3, 6-1 to reach the third round of the Italian Open.
Nadal was coming off
a loss to 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz in the Madrid Open quarterfinals last week. After a first-round bye, he improved to 44-0 in matches on clay following a loss on the surface.
Perhaps more importantly, Nadal regained some confidence as he works his way back from a rib stress fracture that kept him out for six weeks before the tournament in Madrid.
While he would clearly love to add to his record total of 10 Italian Open titles, Nadal's bigger objective is regaining his top form in time for the French Open, which starts in less than two weeks. Nadal has won 13 of his 21 Grand Slam titles at Roland Garros.