Nikoloz Basilashvili would have come in with a plan when he stepped on to the court to face Rafael Nadal. One needs to be on top of their game when facing nine time Roland Garros champion and unquestionable ‘King of Clay’. So to lose the plot and be blown away completely shouldn’t come as a surprise but then losing the plan by gigantic proportions is another thing. And that is exactly what happened to Basilashvili on Friday in the third round.
He had no answer, no fight to offer to a Nadal who is once again in insane form on clay. He’s won in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid and looks destined to lift the Roland Garros trophy for a record tenth time. And on Friday, he showed another example of the clear intent. The scoreline, above all, would rightly suggest how one sided and dominant it was. Nadal blitzed past Basilashvili in his best showing in a five-setter at Roland Garros.
“I had a couple of plays in my head of how to play against him,” Basilashvili said but the 0-6, 1-6, 0-6 scoreline would hardly suggest that. “I was expecting, obviously, a very, very difficult match, but not something like this. The score is quite embarrassing, you know, but I have to accept it,” he added.
The statistics tell a grim tale for the Georgian. He was broken eight times, only won 23% of points on Nadal’s serve, had 5 winners (as against Nadal’s 27), 34 unforced errors (as against Nadal’s 23) and won just 36 of 118 points in the contest. It took 12 games for the World No 63 to register a mark on the scoreboard.
While you would consider Basilashvili to be a rookie and a surprise entrant into the third round, as is the norm with French Open, but he has beaten top-10 player Dominic Thiem this year.
The win keeps Nadal’s splendid run on clay going with the numbers drawing a jaw dropping reaction. His victory on Friday was his 100th best-of-five-set match and took his tally on clay to 98-2. Meanwhile at French Open, he has stretched his run to 75-2.
Nadal, never one to play himself up, avoided using any superlatives to describe his win. “Was a great match for me, no? I won winning with that score against a player that already won against (Gilles) Simon and (Victor) Troicki, so cannot say another thing. I played very well,” he said.