Rafael Nadal rattled off another first-round victory at the French Open as the 13-time champion defeated Alexei Popyrin 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(3) on Tuesday.

Winning habits die hard as the third seed began his 17th appearance at Roland Garros with the no-nonsense win which took just under two and a half hours.

It marked the 101st victory for Spain’s king of clay from 103 played at the event.

“It was a tough match from the start,” the winner said. “I’m pleased with how I played.

“Alexei was serving bombs all the time and going for the lines a lot. Fast and warm conditions made everything faster.

“I was lucky to win the third set (after going down a break). I don’t know how I did it but I found a way.”

Australian Popyrin, ranked 63rd, claimed the Paris junior title four years ago and stretched Nadal last month in the Madrid third round.

Nadal was briefly tested early in the opening set before breaking free to take a two-set-to-love lead.

Popyrin complicated life in the third set with a break, with the set requiring a tiebreaker. Nadal advanced into a second-round contest with Richard Gasquet on his third match point.

Main photo:- Rafa Nadals notches up his 101st Paris victory – by Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd


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