Five-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal again looked unconvincing as he booked a place in the third round at Roland Garros with a straight-sets win over fellow Spaniard Pablo Andujar.
Nadal recovered from two sets to one down to beat John Isner in round one having not dropped a single set in his 2010 triumph, and he was similarly lacklustre in his 7-5 6-3 7-6 (7/4) victory today, having to save eight set points in the final set.
Nadal seized the initiative on Court Suzanne Lenglen by racing into a 0-40 lead in game six and broke Andujar, a winner on clay in Casablanca earlier this season, at the first attempt but he was far from his usual ruthless self again as his opponent broke straight back to even up the set.
A third break of serve came as Nadal won game eight and Andujar then saved a set-point chance for Nadal in the next game before breaking to make it 5-4.
Andujar looked on course for a tie-break at least but a series of unforced errors allowed Nadal to win game 12 to love, as the Valencia-based player slammed a forehand into the net to seal it for the Majorcan.
The second set seemed destined to follow a similar pattern to the first as Andujar broke back immediately after Nadal had taken a 2-0 lead. The set went with serve until Nadal claimed a crucial breakthrough on the Andujar serve in the eighth game. Again, Nadal almost tossed it away as Andujar earned himself three break points.
Solid serves from Nadal saved the first two and on the third Andujar fired a forehand into the net. That gave Nadal set point and though he squandered the first one, Andujar handed him the set on a plate with a wild forehand at the second attempt.
Nadal went long with a sliced backhand which would have enabled him to kick off the third set with a break as Andujar held in a 13-minute game.
The first break of the set went Andujar’s way as he fired a crosscourt forehand winner to take a 3-1 lead and he consolidated it on his own serve before breaking again to open up a four-game advantage.
Nadal dug deep, saving four set points in game seven of the third set to get one break back. In a bizarre third set Andujar then saw seven set points slip away, the last going begging as he dumped a forehand into the net and Nadal managed to hold when Andujar’s drop shot fell short.
Nadal levelled the match up by breaking in the ninth game, drilling a forehand winner down the line and survived an eighth set point on his own serve before a crosscourt winner made it 5-5.
Andujar held at deuce and Nadal set up the tie-break, where a dreadful forehand drop shot presented the nine-time grand slam winner with match point which he duly took to set up a third-round meeting with either 28th seed Nikolay Davydenko or Croatian Antonio Veic.