>Rafael Nadal has annihilated Victor Hanescu 6-3, 6-2 to claim a place in the quarterfinals. Nadal thumped winners of up to 164kmph to clip the line, finding incredible angles using his spin. The match was another typical example of Nadal not only dominating his opponents on clay but wearing them down as they battle to get on the board.
Hanescu battled hard to hold his first service game, rushing the net and playing some incredible half volleys, drop shots and making Nadal slide to the best of his abilities, but Nadal is too hot right now and too fit to be troubled by the longer, more challenging games. It took Hanescu 6 minutes and 37 seconds to hold his opening service game.
Nadal, who definately looks bigger in the chest than he did last season, was dominant on serve as well, sending millimeter perfect body blows down and destroying any second serves he received in return.
Some excellent coverage at the net, taking advantage of his enormous wingspan, gave Hanescu the sixth game and got him on the board for just the second time. Nadal later admitted that he temporarily reduced the intensity of his play at this point, allowing Hanescu back into the match. “I stopped playing a little bit and relaxed. I played with less intensity at 4-1 and I was over-confident. It’s impossible to play with less intensity at this level, he’s a good player.”
Even the games Rafa didn’t win he moved with confidence and incredible speed, managing to dig balls that land behind him for winners or control their awkward bounce with such ease, Roger Federer much have been watching at home hoping he can’t keep it up come Roland Garros. Rafa fans, who were deprived of their star last year, would have been elated with his performance.
Statistically it was an incredible first set from a man who took his foot off the accelerator, and also for the man he was crushing. Both had good serve statistics, but the incredibly aggressive Nadal, who seems to have become even better on a clay court, served an amazing 89% of first serves and won 100% of points on his second serve. Nadal had 12 winners to 6 unforced errors compared to Hanescu’s 7 winners to 3 unforced errors.
In the opening game of the second set Nadal over powered Hanescu, bringing up triple break point with an exceptional down the line forehand hit will sliding after sprinting over to his forehand corner, finding the tape perfectly. Hanescu then went on to win the third game, his second service game of the set to love.
Nadal easily held serve to go up 3-1, having only lost 8 point in the whole match on serve. A beautiful passing shot, just passing Hanescu’s reach, followed by another brilliant forehand catching the Romanian off guard, followed by another pummeled ball gave Nadal the another break to take a quick 4-1 lead. Nadal surrendered only one more game the entire match in an epic display of clay court excellence to book a place in the quarterfinals where he will play Stanislas Wawrinka who has never taken a set off him before.
To his credit Hanescu managed to get four separate break point chances on Rafa’s serve in the sixth game and played an incredibly high quality match that against anyone else would have been a much tighter affair.