Rafael Nadal keeps set streak intact, notches 101st French Open win

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By AFP

PARIS: Rafael Nadal began his bid for a record-setting 21st Grand Slam title with a straight sets win at the French Open on Tuesday.

Nadal, the 13-time champion in Paris, defeated 63rd-ranked Alexei Popyrin of Australia 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7/3) to take his record at the tournament to 101 wins against just two losses.

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“I was lucky to win that third set, I don’t know how (I did). The beginning of the match had been very tough too,” said Nadal, who had been 2-5 down in the third set, saving two set points.

“In these warm and fast conditions it’s always very difficult. He’s young and the speed of his ball is very strong.”

Up next is fellow 34-year-old Richard Gasquet.

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The pair first played one another when they were children. As professionals, Nadal leads 16-0.

The Spaniard’s opening win shifted the emphasis onto world number one, and potential semi-final opponent, Novak Djokovic who is chasing a second French Open title and 19th Grand Slam.

Djokovic was taking on 66th-ranked Tennys Sandgren of the United States in an evening session match-up.

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