Reuters

Rafael Nadal destroys Samuel Groth in magical display at French Open

Nadal destroys Groth in magical display at French Open

24/05/2016 at 13:26Updated 24/05/2016 at 14:12

Rafa Nadal looked every inch the unstoppable force he once was as he stormed to victory in his opening match at Roland Garros.

Nadal lost just three games as he raced past big-serving Australian Sam Groth 6-1 6-1 6-1.

The Spaniard - joint second-favourite alongside Andy Murray with most bookies - pulled off a bewildering array of shots, including a between-the-legs winner which had both men smiling in awe at what had just happened.

The nine-times champion wrapped up the match soon after, and enjoyed a rapturous reception from the crowd as he began his quest for a 10th title.

Though he's been short of his best tennis throughout the last two years, a victory last month in Monte Carlo sparked hopes among his fans that the Spaniard is once again at the top of his game as he broke his opponent eight times and lost just five points on his own serve throughout.

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That stat was hardly surprising, considering that he hit 89% of his first serves in - but his ground strokes were untouchable as well, as he racked up a winner-error count of an incredible 25-3.

Defeats at the hands of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic at the subsequent events in Madrid and Rome dealt him a blow - but on Tuesday's evidence, Nadal has bounced back in style.

And with the match going on while Murray was toiling through a five-setter against 37-year-old Radek Stepanek on Philippe Chatrier court, the message couldn't have been clearer. Nadal is once again playing with confidence, and will prove a mighty obstacle at Roland Garros.

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