Rafael Nadal: ‘Cameron Norrie is a tough opponent, I’m happy to win in straights’

Rafael Nadal will compete in the fourth round at Roland Garros for the 16th time from 17 trips to Paris following a 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 triumph over Cameron Norrie in two hours and seven minutes. It was Nadal’s 289th Major victory and mind-blowing 103rd at Roland Garros from 105 encounters, sailing into the next round where he plays against the young Italian Jannik Sinner on Monday. Rafa lost serve twice in a row in the second set and erased that deficit quickly with a strong performance on the return, taking almost half of the return points and securing six breaks from 12 opportunities to control the pace. The Spaniard had the upper hand in the shortest and most extended exchanges, firing over 30 winners and acting as the determined player on the court. Nadal made a strong start, hitting 13 winners and 11 unforced errors in the opener and dropping four points behind the initial shot. From 30-0 down in the first game, Rafa grabbed four straight points and closed the game with a forehand winner to get his name on the scoreboard.

The Spaniard fired another forehand down the line winner in the third game to remain in front before the Briton moved back to 2-2. Nadal held at love in game five and broke his opponent after Norrie’s forehand mistake that pushed him 4-2 up. Rafa confirmed the advantage with a forehand winner in game seven and held at love at 5-3 with a service winner to secure the opener. Norrie grabbed two breaks in the second set, which wasn’t enough for a positive result, as Nadal stole 62% of the return points and stole his opponent’s serve four times to maintain the lead. The Briton secured a break in game two after forcing Nadal’s forehand error and stayed in front only for a couple of minutes, as Rafa broke back with a forehand winner. Returning well in those moments, Norrie earned another break in game four with a backhand down the line winner, hitting well but failing to cement the lead.

Rafael Nadal shared thoughts about victory over Cameron Norrie.

Nadal broke back again, held at 15 in games six and eight and stole his opponent’s serve at 3-3 to move in front. Returning at 5-3, Rafa placed a perfect backhand crosscourt winner to secure a break and a set after 80 minutes, looking good to seal the deal in the third. The Spaniard held at love at 1-1 and landed an incredible forehand crosscourt winner in the next one to open a 3-1 gap. Norrie saved a break point in game six and a match point at 2-5 before Nadal sealed the deal on his serve at 5-3 with a forehand winner for a place in the last 16.

“Today, I faced a great player who has enjoyed an excellent season. I went on the court knowing it could be a tough match, and it was for moments. I’m happy to win in straight sets, and I think I did what I had to do. For moments, I played well, especially in the opening set. I still have to improve some elements, but it has been so far so good for me. You can’t expect an easy opponent out there. Jannik Sinner is not an ideal fourth-round opponent you can get. Without a doubt, he’s a dangerous one. He is a young, great player. We know each other well, so let’s see what will happen. I need to be ready to play at a very high level to have chances of reaching the quarters, and I’m going to fight for it. I don’t think I was returning unbelievable against Cameron; it was o.k. But then I was solid from the baseline and forced him to always play an extra ball,” Rafael Nadal said.