Nadal Claims Victory No. 70 in Rome, Sets Round 2 Clash against Hurkacz
Rafael Nadal playing his first round at the Foro Italico, Rome, Italy. May 9, 2024. Photo courtesy: Internazionali BNL d’Italia/Sposito/FITP.

No one owns more victories at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia than 10-time champion Rafael Nadal, who achieved a record-extending 70 win by ousting qualifier Zizou Bergs to progress through the second round in Rome on Thursday.

Making a record 19th appearance at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, where he reigns supreme with ten crowns under his belt, former world number one Rafael Nadal opened his campaign on Roman soil with a hard-earned victory over Belgian qualifier Zizou Bergs to set a second-round clash against seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion returned to Campo Centrale for the first time in 728 days, continuing to build form on the clay courts ahead of Roland Garros.

The 37-year-old rallied from a set down to prevail over Bergs, 24, taking a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win after two hours and 54 minutes.

During his on-court interview, the Manacor native asserted: “It was not a good match for me. I was practicing better than how I played today, without a doubt, but I found a way to win.

That is so important at the beginning of the tournament. My game is more unpredictable than before. I didn’t play much tennis for the past two years, so it is up and down.”

I think I can do it much better than I did today, and I hope to do it in the next round.”

As the journey continues, he will meet World No. 9 Hurkacz for the first time on Tour.

The 27-year-old Pole is an 8-time ATP titlist who owns a booming serve, posing a challenge to Nadal, who will have to kick up a level against a powerful, experienced opponent.

Last April, he won his first tournament on the red-clay surface of Estoril, conquering titles on all surfaces.

Nadal Comeback Trail Ahead of Roland Garros

Following a three-match winning streak in Madrid, the Spaniard headed to Rome, excited to play one more time, more likely his last, in the Eternal City.

Speaking to the press early this week, he commented: “It is a tournament that brings back a lot of unforgettable memories for me.”

I am happy to be today where I am because one month ago, it was almost impossible for me to think that I would be able to play in Barcelona, then in Madrid, and now here in Rome. My feelings are better, always. In terms of tennis, too,” he added.

I am here to try my best. Tomorrow is a start. All the matches are tough for me today, more unpredictable than the matches used to be for me, especially on clay. I accept that role. I accept that challenge.”

Nadal sustained a minor muscle tear competing in Brisbane last January while making his first competitive appearance after undergoing hip surgery in June 2023.

By mid-April, he began his comeback to tour-level competition in Barcelona, falling in the second round to Australian Alex de Minaur.

A week later, he would avenge his defeat by outlasting the talented Aussie in straight sets at the Mutua Madrid Open, a tournament in which he performed better, improving within each of his three matches, showing moments of brilliance before Czech Jiri Lehecka beat the home star.

Furthermore, the Spanish player assessed his first-rounder at the Foro Italico as positive overall, showing he is hungry for more.

I need to try to play at my hundred percent; I need to go for everything,” he remarked.

The triumph over Bergs saw him extend his record for most wins at the event (70) on Italian soil.

Cecilia demartini
Sports Pundit staff writer @ceci_2812
Cecilia is a writer and journalist, passionate about motorsport and tennis.Her articles are published in newspapers and international online publications.

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