Rafael Nadal got his clay season back on track with a 6-1 6-0 second-round demolition of Damir Dzumhur at the Internazionali d’Italia.
The Spaniard lost his number one ranking and a 50-set winning streak on clay when he was finally beaten by Dominic Thiem at the Madrid Open last week, but he was back to his somewhere near his brilliant best in Rome.
Dzumhur worked hard, yet came up well short, outclassed by Nadal in a clinical display that ensured a return to winning ways was never in doubt.
And with Thiem crashing out to Fabio Fognini earlier on Wednesday, Nadal’s route to a first Rome title since 2013 – his eighth in total – may have just become a little clearer.
Preparation leads to domination and @RafaelNadal is more than prepared to play in his favorite playground: red clay! #ibi18 #ATP #tennis pic.twitter.com/KWiampX79u
— Internazionali Bnl (@InteBNLdItalia) May 16, 2018
Nadal took no time at all to hit his stride, cruising as he built an early advantage and then working for his second break, taking the fourth game with a superb return that Dzumhur could only play into the net.
The underdog took the lead in his next service game and survived a set point to this time hold on, but Nadal swiftly wrapped up the opener when it was his turn to serve.
And it quickly became clear that it would be more of the same in the second, the world number two taking three of only four break-point opportunities as Dzumhur failed to live with his opponent.
The 31-year-old ultimately booked his place in the third round, where he will play either Robin Haase or Denis Shapovalov, in exactly an hour of play.