Rafael Nadal became only the fourth player to earn 1,000 Open Era singles victories on Wednesday, as he opened his title bid at the Rolex Paris Masters with a 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 comeback victory against Feliciano Lopez.
In his first match since he captured a record-extending 13th Roland Garros title last month, Nadal served 16 aces and saved three of four break points to make further history in the French capital.
The Spaniard, who is chasing his first title at the Accor Arena, improved to 20-5 at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament.
“[Winning 1,000 matches] means that I am old, he told atp.com
“That means that I played well for such a very long time, because to achieve that number is because I have been playing well for a lot of years and [that] is something that makes me feel happy,” said Nadal.
“I just can say thank you very much to all the people that helped me and all the people that in any moment of my life helped me to be where I am.”
Nadal joins Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer and Ivan Lendl in the exclusive 1,000 wins club.
The 34-year-old earned his maiden tour-level victory at home against Ramon Delgado in Mallorca in 2002.
Most Open Era Singles Wins
Nadal snapped a two-match losing streak against Lopez and improved to 10-4 in his ATP Head2Head series against his countryman.
Lopez claimed victories in his past two matches against Nadal at the 2014 Rolex Shanghai Masters and the 2015 Western & Southern Open.
I started the match in the worst way possible, especially against a big server like Feli,” said Nadal.
“After that, I played under a lot of pressure the rest of the match, but I found a way. That’s the main thing…
This victory is one that I am very proud of.
The personal satisfaction sometimes is bigger when you win these matches than if you go on court and you win 6-3, 6-3.”
Nadal is aiming to capture his first Rolex Paris Masters title.
The 2007 runner-up has reached the quarter-finals or better in each of his previous seven tournament appearances.
The top seed’s comeback win marked the second time he has reached a notable win milestone in Paris.
Nadal also earned his 900th tour-level victory in the French capital with a third-round win against Richard Gasquet at 2018 Roland Garros.
Rafael Nadal’s Milestone Wins
|200||Juan Martin del Potro||2007||Miami|
|300||Ivo Karlovic||2008||Queen’s Club|
|400||Tomas Berdych||2009||Davis Cup|
|600||Juan Martin del Potro||2013||Indian Wells|
|800||Thomaz Bellucci||2016||Rio Olympics|
|900||Richard Gasquet||2018||Roland Garros|
Nadal will face Jordan Thompson for a place in the quarter-finals.
The Australian rallied from a set and a break down to overcome St. Petersburg runner-up Borna Coric 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.
The 35-time Masters 1000 titlist opened the match with attacking intent, but he dropped his opening service game after committing multiple errors.
Lopez was dominant behind his first serve (14/15) to maintain his advantage and claim the opening set.
Lopez served well under pressure and saved five break points to reach a second-set tie-break.
In a close fought-tie-break, Nadal served with confidence and clinched the only mini-break at 3/3 by stepping in on his second serve return and rushing the net.
Nadal raised his game in the third set, as he found greater consistency on his forehand and began to dictate rallies.
The Spaniard rushed his opponent by stepping in on his return in the opening game of the decider and claimed his place in the third round when Lopez struck a forehand approach into the net.