Italian Open 2024: Rafael Nadal Battles Past Qualifier Zizou Bergs, To Face Hubert Hurkacz In Second Round

Rafael Nadal, who is 7-3 on the season, moved freely around the court and showed no sign of physical limitations against Zizou Bergs.
Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal in action at Italian Open 2024

Photo : ATP Tour
Rafael Nadal showcased amazing fighting spirit on Thursday at the Italian Open 2024 to recover from a slow start and defeat resilient Belgian qualifier Zizou Bergs 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the opening round.
The 37-year-old is a record 10-time champion in Rome and he showed why in the second and third sets, upping his consistency, weight of shot and intensity to triumph after two hours and 54 minutes.
"It was not my best match. I was practising better than how I played today without a doubt but I found a way to win," Nadal said.
"That is so important at the beginning of the tournament. My game is more unpredictable than before. I didn't play much tennis for the past two years, so it is up and down. I think I can do much better than I did today and hope I can do it in the next round," he added.
The Spaniard is competing in his third consecutive tour-level event, having arrived off the back of a fourth-round run in Madrid. He was not at his best in his first ATP Head-to-Head meeting with Bergs but was gritty and determined in the key moments.
Nadal, who is 7-3 on the season, moved freely around the court and showed no sign of physical limitations. Even when he took a tumble at 0-1, 15/15 in the third set, he jumped back up to win the point.
The former No. 1 will face seventh-seed Hubert Hurkacz in the second round and will need to play at a higher level against the Pole after having hit 23 winners and 32 unforced errors against Bergs.
Nadal owns the most wins (70) at the Foro Italico, where he first claimed the title on debut in 2005. His most recent triumph at the clay-court event came in 2021.
"It is always emotional to play here. One of the most important events in my tennis career. The crowd has always been amazing with me, supporting me since the beginning of my tennis career, so super excited to play one more time here," said Nadal.
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