French Open Men’s Day 3 Recap: Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic off to comfortable starts

Rafael Nadal in action at the ATP Rome Masters
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Day 3 of the French Open saw the tournament’s biggest ever legend, 13-time champion Rafael Nadal, make his debut on Chartrier, as well as some shocking upsets.

French Open Men’s Day 3 Recap

On the plus side

Rafael Nadal had a very comfortable start in his quest for a mind-boggling 14th Roland Garros title. He did struggle a bit in third set, with Alexei Popyrin serving big, hitting big, and coming very close to winning a set, but ultimately the Spaniard’s victory was really never in doubt. Nadal will ow face Richard Gasquet in one of the most one-sided matchups in tennis history. The Spaniard leads the head-to-head 16-0 and has won the last 26 sets between the pair, a trend that is not expected to stop on Thursday.

Novak Djokovic also got off to a flying start, breezing past Tennys Sandgren in the last match of the day, with empty stands because of the curfew. It took the Serb a mere two hours to book his place in Round 2, where he’ll face Pablo Cuevas. Cuevas himself easily dispatched Lucas Pouille in straight sets.

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Gael Monfils had a 1-9 record since tennis resumed post-COVID break. He has admitted to struggling mentally with the whole situation, so at this point any victory will feel like a huge achievement. This one wasn’t easy and it took some inspired tennis at key junctures for the Frenchman to defeat Albert Ramos-Vinolas in front of his home crowd.

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Who looked bad

Andrey Rublev, #3 in the Race, finalist in Monte Carlo (beating Nadal on the way), was considered a potential dark horse in this tournament. But his run is over before it even began, at the hands of Jan-Lennard Struff. As well as the German played, this will still feel like a huge disappointment and missed opportunity for Rublev.

The biggest upset of the day, however, was Felix Auger-Aliassime crashing out to a 37-year-old Andreas Seppi in four sets. The Canadian just looked lost out there the entire time and will have a lot of work to do to get his career back on track. Seppi hadn’t won an ATP match since January 2020.

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Lucas Pouille‘s loss to Pablo Cuevas wasn’t really an upset, but the crushing way in which he lost, without even putting up a hint of a fight, most certainly was. Pouille is another player whose best day seems to be behind him rather than ahead of him.

Match of the day

It has to be the battle between Rublev and Struff. The German served great, and there were a lot of high quality baseline rallies. The match followed many twists and turns and had an uncertain outcome until the end. Rublev came back from two sets down and looked like he might prevail. But he couldn’t get it done in the end, with his inability to play in the forecourt proving costly.

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