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Page last updated at 11:23 GMT, Friday, 28 May 2010 12:23 UK

Rafael Nadal beats Horacio Zeballos at French Open

French Open
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Date: 23 May-6 June
Coverage:
Live video streamed from 1000 BST on BBC Sport website (UK only) and BBC red button; commentary on BBC 5 live sports extra; also live on Eurosport; text commentary on BBC Sport website Details of BBC coverage

Rafael Nadal
Nadal has lost only 13 games at this year's tournament at Roland Garros

By Piers Newbery
BBC Sport at Roland Garros

Rafael Nadal continued his serene progress as he bids for a fifth French Open title with a straightforward victory over Argentina's Horacio Zeballos in round two.

The Spaniard, seeded second, won 6-2 6-2 6-3 in one hour 44 minutes and will face Lleyton Hewitt, who beat Denis Istomin in a five-setter, for a place in the last 16.

Nadal's second-round tie had fallen victim to the rain on Thursday, but when the players took to Court Philippe Chatrier for Friday's opening match it was bathed in sunshine.

To say that Zeballos faced a daunting task would be a considerable understatement as the 25-year-old had never before played a top-10 player and is making his singles debut at Roland Garros this year.

I didn't have enough rhythm. Sometimes I had the impression I was playing well or very well.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal could hardly be a more illustrious opponent as he tries to become the second man in history, after Bjorn Borg, to win five French Open titles.

And after some early sparring the Spaniard's forehand clicked into gear in game four, three winners in a row earning a first break of serve.

Zeballos had some encouraging moments, a couple of drop shots and the occasional heavy return off a second serve catching Nadal out, but another searing forehand and a backhand punched down the line gave the four-time champion the set in 34 minutes.

There was a minor scare for Nadal in game three of the second set when successive errors gave Zeballos a couple of break points, but on a hazy Parisian morning there was hardly the sense of a threat to Nadal around Chatrier, more a sense of curiosity as to how he would get out of trouble.

A Zeballos error helped him before a heavy kick serve made it deuce, and a third break point moments later was seen off with a Nadal backhand winner down the line.

Nadal made sure he won his fifth successive set of the tournament 6-2 with another break and a forehand arrowed into the corner gave him a seemingly decisive 2-0 lead, only for the world number 44 to rouse the crowd by finally getting the better of Nadal's serve.

606: DEBATE

A series of aggressive forehands saw him cut the deficit to 4-3 in the third set but it would not delay Nadal for long, the Spaniard restoring his advantage in the following game and serving out the match at the first opportunity.

Nadal had said after his opening win over Gianni Mina that he had played "really bad", despite dropping just six games, and he was prepared to be more generous on himself after round two.

"I played better than the other day," he said. "I didn't really play badly. I wouldn't say this was an exceptional match, it was a normal type of match.

"I didn't have enough rhythm. He was a lefty, and he wanted to change the pace with dropshots. But sometimes I had the impression I was playing well or very well."

Next up for Nadal will be the Australian Hewitt, the former world number one who has played and lost three times against the Spaniard at the French Open in 2006, 2007 and 2009.

On his fourth-round opponent, Nadal added: "We know Hewitt. He's a very dangerous guy and he plays at a very high level."

Hewitt lost the first and fourth sets against Istomin of Uzbekistan before coming through 1-6 6-3 6-4 2-6 6-2.



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