Rafael Nadal began his 2021 French Open campaign with a typically destructive victory over Alexei Popyrin and Mats Wilander has explained why he is so tough to face.
The 13-time champion at Roland Garros, sporting a lurid fluorescent shirt in the baking sunshine on Philippe Chatrier, steamrollered the Australian with consummate ease to secure his place in the second round.
It was his 101st victory at the tournament he has made his own and the King of Clay never looked in any trouble as he won through in two hours and 23 minutes.
Wimbledon
Opinion: Wimbledon and Olympic withdrawals inevitable, and more will follow
YESTERDAY AT 14:24
Showing a clip of Popyrin framing a Nadal forehand into the stands, Eurosport's Wilander explained in his analysis what makes Nadal so tough to face on the clay at Roland Garros after his victory.
"The ball bounces so high that Popyrin cannot control it at all," Wilander said.
"When Rafa hits that return, two-and-a-half metres over the net, and it has 4,000rpms on it... I played with Rafa once and that was the problem.
You could hit shots that literally clear the fence if you mishit them a little bit, so it is nearly impossible to control.

'He was hitting bombs, incredible!' - Nadal praises Popyrin after opening win in Paris

Fellow Eurosport expert Alex Corretja agreed: "The thing is, the ball bounces so high up to you, and players like Popyrin like to hit the ball flat.
"But if the ball bounces and it comes up to your head, it's so difficult to control, and that's why he shanked it with his racket and it's not that easy to play with him."
Intriguingly, Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have all found themselves in the same part of the men's draw at the 2021 edition of the clay-court Grand Slam.
Djokovic could take on Nadal in the semi-finals in Paris in what would be a repeat from last year's final in the postponed autumnal edition.
Such has been the 34-year-old's influence at Roland Garros, a statue was unveiled in his honour ahead of this year's tournament - something he was moved by.
"It means an awful lot to me," Nadal said in a speech prior to his first-round win.

'It means an awful lot to me' - Nadal meets his statue at Roland Garros

The three most successful players in the history of the men's game have won 17 of the last 20 Grand Slam titles between them.

Highlights: Nadal downs Popyrin in straight sets to win opener in Paris

- - -
Watch all the action from the 2021 French Open live on Eurosport, eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app with 13-time champion Rafael Nadal eyeing a remarkable 14th title and 2020 Roland Garros sensation Iga Swiatek aiming to replicate her stunning triumph.
Tennis
Murray on Federer: I know that it’s not easy coming back
YESTERDAY AT 08:44
Tokyo 2020
Nadal pulls out of Wimbledon and Olympic Games
17/06/2021 AT 11:46