Twelve-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal came out strong in his first match of the 2020 tournament, beating Egor Gerasimov of Belarus in just over two hours, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

With the win, the Spaniard improved to 43-0 as the No. 2 seed at the clay-court Grand Slam.

There were only two break point chances in the first two sets—both were Nadal's, and he converted each, breaking in the fifth game of the first set and again in the third game of the second.

Things got interesting early in the third set as Gerasimov broke Nadal's serve for the first time, going up 2-0 after the Spaniard missed a backhand wide. But Rafa wouldn't lose another game from there, reeling off six in a row to close the match out after two hours and five minutes on court.

Nadal finished with 32 winners to 20 unforced errors and a perfect five-for-five on break points.

He was asked afterwards what he was happiest about with his opening performance.

"I played quite a solid match when I was serving, no?" Nadal said. "I was playing some good points. I did some good forehands, winners down the line—that's a key shot for me. And then I had to play a little bit longer. I played sometimes too short. But in general terms, that's a normal first match for Roland Garros. I did the things that I had to do. I didn't expect much more. I didn't expect less, too.

"I am quite happy about how the match evolved. He served well. It was not easy to make breaks, but in some way I did things well, and I am happy for the victory."

Nadal didn't win the only lead-up tournament he played in Rome—he fell to Diego Schwartzman in the quarterfinals—but he's now won 24 matches in a row at Roland Garros, and is 94-2 here overall.

"Step by step," he said. "Today was the first step. Tomorrow, another day for practice. That's the only thing that I try to look at this tournament, try to be happy about every single improvement, and try to give myself a chance to be better every day."

Rafael Nadal is now 43-0 as the No. 2 seed at Roland Garros

Rafael Nadal is now 43-0 as the No. 2 seed at Roland Garros


Getty Images

When it comes to where he's seeded at his favorite Grand Slam event, No. 2 seems to be Nadal's favorite number—this is his seventh time playing as the second seed here and he went all the way to the title on the previous six occasions, in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2019.

He's 24-1 as the No. 1 seed, losing to Robin Soderling in the fourth round in 2009, and 27-1 when he's seeded outside the Top 2, falling to Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals in 2015, as the No. 6 seed.

Awaiting Nadal in the second round here will be American Mackenzie McDonald, who rallied from a set down to take out Canadian qualifier Steven Diez earlier in the day, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.

Nadal and McDonald have never played—McDonald has never played any of the Big 3, in fact. But he does have one Top 10 win, beating a No. 4-ranked Juan Martin del Potro in Delray Beach last year.

Rafael Nadal is now 43-0 as the No. 2 seed at Roland Garros

Rafael Nadal is now 43-0 as the No. 2 seed at Roland Garros