Defending champion Rafael Nadal withstood a determined comeback from Britain’s Kyle Edmund to win 6-0, 5-7, 6-3 in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Wednesday.
He was joined in the third round by top-ranked Andy Murray, who returned from an elbow injury to beat Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 7-5, 7-5.
Murray, the French Open finalist last year, has never won in Monaco, while the fourth-seeded Nadal is aiming for a 10th Monte Carlo title.
Nadal looked to be coasting until Edmund found his range with huge forehands. The third set was intense, with three straight breaks of serve from 2-2, until the nine-time French Open champion drew on his vastly superior experience on clay.
The Spaniard’s relief was evident when he secured victory on his first match point.
After Edmund patted a return into the net, Nadal tilted his head back and raised his arms in the air.
“He hit so strong, a lot of big forehands from everywhere. So well done to him,” Nadal said. “When you play against a player that wants to hits every ball, sometimes you are in his hands. He has all the possibilities to become a top player.”
Nadal’s next match could be tough, too. He faces 14th-seeded Alexander Zverev, the 19-year-old German who pushed him to five sets in the third round at this year’s Australian Open.
Nadal is looking for this first title of the year after losing in three finals — including defeats to Roger Federer at the Australian Open and the Miami Open. He will not be able to get his revenge on Federer, as the 18-time Grand Slam champion is skipping the tournament.
The 22-year-old Edmund, who is ranked 45th, was happy with the way he pushed Nadal in their first ever meeting.
“It’s good I’m able to play like that. Lots of positives to take and things to work on,” Edmund said. “He’s arguably the best player of all time on clay. In the beginning I was too timid, but by the end my shots were really flowing.”