Nadal Earns 300th Grand Slam Match Win
Rafael Nadal reached the latest milestone in his legendary career on Wednesday by earning his 300th Grand Slam victory. The Spaniard faced a worthy opponent in fellow lefty Corentin Moutet, but had an answer for everything the Frenchman threw his way on Court Philippe Chatrier.
With his 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 victory, Nadal became just the third man to reach the 300-wins mark at the Grand Slams, behind only Roger Federer’s 369 wins and Novak Djokovic’s 324.
“I’m happy I am through in three sets, that’s an important fact for me and that gives me the chance to keep working tomorrow and try to be ready for after tomorrow against a tough opponent,” said Nadal, who will face Botic van de Zandschulp on Friday. “So let’s see. I am happy about a lot of things that I did tonight, so let’s try to keep going and keep improving tomorrow.”
In the final match of the evening on Chatrier, Nadal controlled the baseline and relentlessly attacked Moutet’s serve, winning just under half (36/75) of his return points and converting on seven of 12 break points in the match.
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Moutet did his best to stay aggressive and found intermittent success with that tactic, as well as with several drop shots. Some of his best moments came in the third set, when he held an early 2-0 lead and later broke Nadal as the Spaniard tried to serve out the match at 5-3.
But Nadal, who led 3-0 and 4-0 in the opening two sets, respectively, snapped back to secure victory with his seventh break. He won the last four points of the match from 15/0 on the Moutet serve, bringup up match point with a clever drop shot and clinching the match by chasing down a drop shot from Moutet.
“I enjoyed more 6-1,” Nadal said with a laugh when asked if he relished the competitive finale. “After that I think I played a basic set. At the beginning of the third I [played] a very bad game at the beginning and I had to come back. I did well. And then, again, I had a couple of mistakes in the serving for the match. Happy that I played another good game to finish.”
The 23-year-old Moutet enjoyed plenty of crowd support in the matchup against his childhood idol, but could not stop Nadal from improving to 10-0 against Frenchmen at Roland Garros, including a 30-2 record in sets. Nadal is 96-13 overall against French opposition, including 16 straight wins.
“I think the crowd was very nice with me too, no?” he said of the Chatrier environment. “I really didn’t feel the crowd against me at all. I think it was a 50-50 and it was supporting good tennis.
“I always enjoy good support here in Paris. I think the people here know how special this place is for me and how important and how much respect I always had for Roland Garros. I think they appreciate all the things that I did in this event, so I feel a lot of love from the people here.”
Nadal also improved to a perfect 14-0 against lefties at Roland Garros (114-16 overall) and 52-0 prior to the fourth round at the Paris major, not including his 2016 walkover to Marcel Granollers.
Moutet, who beat 2015 Roland Garros champ Stan Wawrinka to set up what was a dream matchup for him, was seeking his first Top 10 win but instead dropped to 0-7 in such matches. His best win by the Pepperstone ATP Rankings was a victory over then-World No. 13 David Goffin in Halle last season.
Nadal advances to face Van de Zandschulp in the third round after the 26th seed got past Fabio Fognini, who retired after falling behind by two sets earlier on Wednesday. The Dutchman qualified for Roland Garros and reached the second round last year as the World No. 154. Now seeded for the first time at a Grand Slam, his Friday meeting with Nadal will be his first match against a member of the Big Four.
The 26-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough run to the 2021 US Open quarter-finals, where he was the only man to take a set off eventual champion Daniil Medvedev. He reached his first ATP Tour final less than one month ago in Munich, beating Casper Ruud and Miomir Kecmanovic before chest pains forced him to retire in the final against Holger Rune.