Rafael Nadal today buried the ghosts of his first French Open defeat by notching up his 200th win on clay and reaching this year’s quarter-finals.
Four-time champion Nadal was stunned by an inspired Robin Soderling in round four 12 months ago, but despite a defiant display on Philippe Chatrier Court this afternoon, young Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci was unable to repeat the feat.
Despite creating a similar number of break points as his illustrious opponent, the 24th seed was ultimately beaten in straight sets, 6-2 7-5 6-4, as Nadal set up a last-eight clash with Fernando Verdasco or Nicolas Almagro.
Brazilian Bellucci was playing at the last-16 stage of a grand slam for the first time, having upset 14th seed Ivan Ljubicic on Saturday.
The 22-year-old lost in the first round to Nadal two years ago in their only previous meeting and appeared keen to show how much he had improved.
His hopes of doing so were dented when he dropped serve in the opening game but he had deuce in the next and broke back with some fine play two games later.
He immediately surrendered his serve from 40-0 up before more errors saw him broken again in game seven, allowing Nadal to serve out the set.
The second set went with serve until Bellucci bounced back from a break in game five, before a double fault in game nine gave Nadal the chance to serve out the set.
The Brazilian raced to 0-40 before converting his third break-back point with a beautiful running forehand, but he dropped serve again amid brilliant counter-punching from Nadal, who served out again.
The topsy-turvy action continued at the start of the third, Bellucci immediately recovering a Nadal break with a cracking backhand before two errors handed the advantage back to the Spaniard in game five, mistakes that ultimately proved decisive.