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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, September 30, 2020

A breeze kicked up a cloud of clay prompting Rafael Nadal to pause his service motion midway through the second set.

That was a brief reprieve in the red storm Nadal unleashed on Court Philippe Chatrier.

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In a force of nature performance, Nadal rampaged through 12 of the first 13 games blasting past Mackenzie McDonald 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 into the Roland Garros third round for the 16th straight year.

It was Nadal’s 95th victory in 97 career French Open matches and his most convincing conquest since he returned to the pro circuit in Rome earlier this month.

"I am working hard in every practice to try to be better and better in every match," Nadal said. "Today was not that cold, so that's the main thing. Not that cold, the conditions are not that bad.

"The ball is still heavy. When is not that cold, the ball is little bit less heavy always, no? I see the predictions the next couple of days are not very good."

The second-seeded Spaniard resides on the opposite half of the draw than world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, but the two have traded impressive score shots in a first-week rally.

A day after Djokovic dismissed Mikael Ymer 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 in his opener, Nadal was even more dominant dropping only four games.

A pristine stat sheet showed Nadal’s ruthless red clay attack from all areas of the court.

The 12-time Roland Garros champion did not face a break point, converted seven of eight break points and frequently streaked forward to tomahawk smashes: Nadal won 13 of 16 net trips.

It all added up to a commanding one hour, 40-minute victory.

Two up, two down.

Nadal is now five wins away from capturing his 13th Roland Garros crown—and matching Roger Federer’s major mark by winning his 20th Grand Slam championship.

If he can win five more matches in Paris, Nadal will collect his 100th French Open victory, 60th clay-court win and join Djokovic as the second man to capture Grand Slam titles in three different decades.

The 34-year-old Spaniard has permitted just 14 games in two tournament wins.

Next up for Nadal is either three-time French Open quarterfinalist Kei Nishikori or Stefano Travaglia with a trip to the fourth round on the line.

Photo credit: Roland Garros Facebook


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