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Rafael Nadal v Zizou Bergs LIVE: Tennis result and latest updates as Spaniard battles through at Italian Open

Nadal ramps up his French Open preparations and continues his injury recovery in Rome

Harry Latham-Coyle
Thursday 09 May 2024 16:38 BST
Rafael Nadal is in action in Rome
Rafael Nadal is in action in Rome (AFP via Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal battled past Belgian underdog Zizou Bergs to reach the second round of the Italian Open.

The Spaniard continued his preparation for the French Open later this month with a hard-fought victory in Rome, taking the decider to secure a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory having fallen behind to an impressive Bergs. While clunky to start, Nadal warmed to his work and showed real stamina to outlast the 24-year-old, setting up a meeting with Hubert Hurkacz.

The 14-time Roland Garros champion has said he expects to retire after this season after he spent most of last year nursing a hip issue that required surgery but a muscle tear in Brisbane stalled his comeback in January.

The 37-year-old returned to the tour last month as the clay swing begun and he got valuable match practice in Barcelona and Madrid, with the ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome this week a third straight tournament in which to test himself.

The 22-time grand slam winner will now hope to get more sets in his legs ahead of a potential farewell to the French Open, which begins in Paris on 26 May.

Follow all the action from the Italian Open in our blog below:


Novak Djokovic on course for ‘peak’ form at French Open

Novak Djokovic said he is building up to hit top form for his French Open title defence, after the world number one skipped last month’s Madrid Masters and arrived early in Rome to continue his preparations for the year’s second grand slam.

The Serb last competed at the Monte Carlo Masters in April where he lost to Casper Ruud in the semi-finals, and the record 24-time grand slam champion is still seeking his first trophy of the season.

The 37-year-old, who has split with long-time coach Goran Ivanisevic, is currently working with former doubles world number one Nenad Zimonjic and said he was happy with his progress ahead of Roland Garros starting on May 26.

“I had plenty of time to also rest and train. I had a good training block. I arrived (in Rome) two days ago to get a hit on the centre court, obviously stay four-five days training before my first match with top players,” Djokovic told reporters.

“Obviously it’s different when you train with them, playing practice sets, seeing where your game is at and working your way towards the fine form for the first official match.

Novak Djokovic on course for ‘peak’ form at French Open

Djokovic elected to miss the Madrid Masters and is still seeking his first trophy of the season

Harry Latham-Coyle9 May 2024 15:55

Rafael Nadal embraces ‘challenge’ of returning to regular playing schedule

Rafael Nadal said he is encouraged by his steady progress after returning from injury last month, as the 14-time French Open champion continues his preparation for Roland Garros at this week’s Rome Masters.

Nadal, who has said he expects to retire after this season, spent most of last year nursing a hip issue that required surgery, before a muscle tear in Brisbane stalled his comeback in January.

The 37-year-old returned to the tour during the clay swing for tournaments in Barcelona and Madrid, and is fit enough to play his third event in a row in Rome.

Rafael Nadal embraces ‘challenge’ of returning to regular playing schedule

Nadal is hoping to compete for a 15th French Open crown in what is set to be his final season

Harry Latham-Coyle9 May 2024 15:45

Rafael Nadal through to second round

Nadal will have to be much better than that if he is to go deep in Rome, but for a player so used to blowing away opponents like Zizou Bergs on clay, a battling win and plenty of time on court may not be the worst thing. A clash with Hubert Hurkacz should offer a better gauge of where his level is - surprisingly, the pair are yet to meet on tour.

Harry Latham-Coyle9 May 2024 15:35

Rafael Nadal on advancing to second round in Rome

The heavens have opened in Rome, meaning there is a short delay before the broadcaster is able to collar Rafael Nadal for a chat beneath a brolly.

Here he is: “That was not my best match, I was practicing better than I played, but I found a way to win. That’s so important at the beginning of a tournament. My game is more unpredictable than before, I haven’t played much tennis for the last two years. I think I can do much better than today and I hope to in the next round.

“It’s always emotional to play in these sort of events. The crowd have always been amazing with me, supporting me since the beginning. I’m super excited to be able to play one more time here.”

Nadal will face Hubert Hurkacz, the seventh seed, next in Rome.

Harry Latham-Coyle9 May 2024 15:28

Rafael Nadal beats Zizou Bergs to progress to second round!

There it is! Rafael Nadal seals a battling victory in Rome, putting away Zizou Bergs (4-6, 6-3, 6-4) in a hard-fought contest to progress to the second round of the Italian Open.

It wasn’t Nadal at his best, but a performance of serious stamina suggests the Spaniard is in good nick as he gears up for Roland Garros.

(Getty Images)

Harry Latham-Coyle9 May 2024 15:19

Rafael Nadal* 4-6, 6-3, 5-4 Zizou Bergs

Zizou Bergs stays alive. The intensity seems to have dipped a little from the Belgian as we near the three-hour mark in this back-and-forth encounter, but he ensures that he’ll force Nadal to serve victory out.

Harry Latham-Coyle9 May 2024 15:13

Rafael Nadal 4-6, 6-3, 5-3 Zizou Bergs*

Rafael Nadal is in a battle here, but he’s just about finding enough. He falls to 0-30 but is soon pumping his fist in celebration, drawing an errant backhand block before rifling a forehand winner. A slap into the net and it’s 5-3.

Harry Latham-Coyle9 May 2024 15:10

Rafael Nadal* 4-6, 6-3, 4-3 Zizou Bergs

An impressive service game from Zizou Bergs, finding the outside of the line to seal it as the chair umpire overrules his line judge.

Harry Latham-Coyle9 May 2024 15:03

Rafael Nadal 4-6, 6-3, 4-2 Zizou Bergs*

The concession of three exceptionally soft points by Rafael Nadal gives Zizou Bergs a serious sniff of breaking back. But Nadal tightens his game up and Bergs falters, punching a couple of groundstrokes long to cede control.

Gutsy stuff from the Spaniard. Bergs slaps his heel in frustration.

(Getty Images)
Harry Latham-Coyle9 May 2024 14:59

Rafael Nadal* 4-6, 6-3, 3-2 Zizou Bergs

Zizou Bergs sweeps the clay away with his foot like an angry archeaologist unhappy with his find, a foot fault and a net cord clip leading to a double fault to grant Rafael Nadal a break point. Thankfully for the Rome surface, the Belgian saves it, and eventually fights to a hold.

Harry Latham-Coyle9 May 2024 14:50

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