efe-epaRome

Spanish tennis star and world no. 2, Rafael Nadal, prevailed Thursday in his Italian Open debut by defeating world No. 42 Jeremy Chardy of France 6-0, 6-1, moving on the third round.

Nadal, an eight-time champion in Rome, took 66 minutes to eliminate Chardy, who has never managed to beat Nadal in their three career encounters.

"It was a good start today," said Nadal, who is seeking his first title this year.

"I am happy with that victory and happy because it was one hour, and that is important for what is coming up," the 32-year-old added.

The King of Clay, Nadal, is set to play another match later Thursday as heavy rains in Rome had postponed the tournament's Wednesday's matches.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion is scheduled to next take on 14th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia, who prevailed over Laslo Dere of Serbia 7-5, 6-4 Tuesday.

The Spaniard, who left the tennis court cheered by fans, will try to make the most of the next few hours to rest before the duel against Basilashvili, world No. 18.

"It is a tough one. He is a tough player, very dangerous. He hits the ball very strong," Nadal said.

"He already won two great matches here so it is going to be a big challenge, but it is a good test for me," the Spanish superstar underscored.

If Nadal wins his next match, it would be his second victory over Basilashvili on a clay tournament, as he defeated the Georgian player at the 2017 edition of Roland Garros.

In other Italian Open action, Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina won 6-4, 6-2 over Germany's David Goffin, taking revenge after he was defeated twice by the German at the 2018 edition of the Italian Open and the 2018 Cincinnati Masters.

Del Potro is set to square off against world No.76 Casper Ruud of Norway, who got past 36th-ranked Nick Kyrgios of Australia.

The 24-year-old Australian, who had acted in an offensive manner in his first round win, was defaulted in the second against Ruud for throwing a chair on the court, while trailing on the scoreboard 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 2-1 to the ATP rising star Ruud, aged 20.

Meanwhile, world No. 51 Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany upset Croatian Marian Cilic, world No. 10, 6-2, 6-3.

Struff is scheduled to play Thursday against world No. 6 Kei Nishikori of Japan. EFE

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