Rafael Nadal defeated Britain's Cameron Norrie in straight sets in the third round of the French Open and Chris Evert says one stat is "vital" behind his incredible consistency.
Nadal, who turned 35 earlier in the week and is targeting a 14th French Open crown, is always impossibly intense, even at the start of matches. But Norrie gave as good as he got early on, only to eventually fall short after two hours and seven minutes as Nadal reached the last 16 at Roland Garros for the 16th time.
The Brit managed to win a 21-shot rally early on which had fans standing on Court Suzanne Lenglen in just the second game on his own serve. But his moments of ascendancy were fleeting and the reigning champion at Roland Garros took the opening set 6-3 to stamp his authority on the match with a great atmosphere in Paris.
Nadal answers GOAT question and identifies his most 'important legacy'
Eurosport expert Evert said there is a very telling Nadal stat that not many people realise which explains his remarkable consistency in remaining at the top of the game.

'It's a reasonable time' - Umpire defends Nadal with Norrie angry at being kept waiting

"Rafa is showing a more all-court game in the last few years. Even though he is the greatest ever on clay, he still wants to improve and he is still learning a lot of shots," Evert told Eurosport.
His touch is much better, he is serving much bigger. But the stat I like about Rafa - not many people know this - in the first three shots in a point, he makes those three shots over 90 per cent of the time.
"That's what I think you have to tell the juniors these days: the first three shots are vital and look at Rafa can do and that is one of the reasons he is just so consistent."

'Not many players do that to Nadal!' - Norrie wins epic 21-shot rally

Norrie broke serve at the start of the second set to assume a 2-0 lead and was then left to voice his frustration with the umpire over what he felt was Nadal repeatedly making him wait on serve as the Spaniard broke straight back.
After letting the umpire know how he felt about it, he was told that actually Nadal was playing within the rules:
"It is a reasonable time," he was told by the umpire.
"Yeah but I'm still going to attack," replied Norrie before striding back on to the court.

'That is so clever!' - Nadal with genius drop shot against Norrie

As the match proceeded, Nadal ended up taking the second set with the same scoreline as the first, and the 'King of Clay' kicked on to complete a straight-sets win.
Up next for the third seed is a mouthwatering clash with Italian sensation Jannik Sinner, the 18th seed, in the fourth round.
Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have all found themselves in the same part of the men's draw in what is an intriguing prospect for the latter stages of the tournament.
The draw looks particularly exciting for Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev with the trio not having to face any of the 'Big Three' until the final at least.
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.
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 ends the run of Britain's Norrie at Roland Garros

- - -
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.
Australian Open
Five burning questions with 50 days to go until 2023 Australian Open
'A part of my life left with Federer' – Nadal recalls emotional goodbye to tennis legend
26/11/2022 AT 09:03