Rafael Nadal was very candid with the media Tuesday about his slide out of the top 5 tennis rankings, and rather than let that eat away at him, he just went back out on the clay and took out Marsel Ilhan in just a little over an hour in two sets 6-2, 6-0 at the 2015 Rome Open Masters.
Nadal, seeded down in fourth, was never really tested against the 87th-ranked Ilhan from Turkey, who he faced for the first time.
After dropping out of the top five in the rankings this week for the first time in 10 years, Nadal will next meet 16th-seeded John Isner.
The Spaniard, currently ranked No. 7 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, dismantled top Turkish player Marsel Ilhan 6-2, 6-0 in 74 minutes on Wednesday to advance to the third round in Rome. The fourth seed won 92 per cent of his first serve points and saved both break points he faced in the match.
Coming off his first clay-court loss to Andy Murray last week in Madrid, Nadal is attempting to reach the final at this event for the 10th time in 11 straight appearances. The Mallorca native’s 15-4 record on clay in 2015 marks the first time he has lost more than three matches on the surface in a single season since his rookie campaign in 2003.
He will next face John Isner, whom he recently defeated in Monte-Carlo. Though Isner has yet to defeat Nadal in their five FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, the American has taken him to a deciding set three times.
Nadal is 5-0 against Isner but needed three sets to beat the 6-foot-10 American in Monte Carlo last month, and had to come back from two sets down against him during the first round of the 2011 French Open.
“He’s difficult to play against,” Nadal said. “You dont have a lot of control on the things that are going to happen. If he serves well then you are in trouble. I have to play with no mistakes when I’m serving.”
Top Austrian Dominic Thiem was leading No. 12 seed Gilles Simon 7-6(5), 2-0 when the Frenchman was forced to retire.
The 21 year old will face eighth-seeded Stan Wawrinka in the third round as he attempts to reach the quarter-finals at an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament for the second time this year (Indian Wells). Thiem, who is competing in Rome for the first time, defeated the Swiss last year on clay in the second round of the Mutua Madrid Open.
Japanese fifth seed Kei Nishikori won his opening test four days after falling in a Madrid semi-final to Nadal, with Asia’s top player defeating Czech Jiri Vesely 7-6 (7-3) 7-5.
Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez accounted for Ukrainian qualifier Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4 6-3.
Roger Federer takes on Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay later tonight.