Mats Wilander expects Rafael Nadal to be “nearly impossible to beat” at Roland Garros this year after seeing his performance in the opening round against Egor Gerasimov.

The 12-time champion eased past Gerasimov in straight sets as he secured his 94th win at the French Open.

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Eurosport expert Wilander was particularly impressed by the way Nadal stepped into the court and played more aggressively, with stats showing he hit the ball harder than last year, with his forehand measuring at 4kph faster on average and his backhand 9kph faster.

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"I like the way he played and the way he finishes his forehand, not above his head most of the time, actually following through properly," said Wilander.

If he has decided to play this kind of tennis I do not want to be Novak Djokovic or Dominic Thiem. I think Rafa is going to be very hard to beat.

Wilander thinks Nadal has changed his approach because of the different conditions this year, with the tournament being played in autumn instead of summer.

"He also knows tactically that he cannot take his foot off the pedal," he said. "In the past in May and June he could win matches by retrieving, going backwards, but today he cannot.

"The players are better, the conditions are heavier, and he needs to go forward and be aggressive. I am a bit surprised at how well he played today, but at the same time it’s Rafael Nadal, potentially the greatest player of all time.

He adapts to every surface and every ball. Every day I see him play I think he’s nearly impossible to beat.

Nadal will face American Mackenzie McDonald in the next round.

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18/10/2020 AT 13:52