PARIS, May 31 (Reuters) - Defending champion Rafa Nadal stuttered for the second time so far at the French Open before moving through to the third round with a 4-6 6-3 6-3 6-3 victory over Slovakia’s Martin Klizan on Friday.
The Spaniard, looking for his eighth Roland Garros title, looked ill at ease as fellow left hander Klizan came out swinging and dropped the first set before raising his game enough to claim victory in two hours 44 minutes.
Thursday’s heavy rain meant the match was one of several second round ties held over and having not played since Monday, Nadal was clearly not firing on all cylinders.
On Monday he was pushed hard by Daniel Brands and world number 35 Klizan had obviously taken a leaf out of the German’s book with some heavy hitting from the baseline to break the misfiring Spaniard’s serve in the eighth game.
Klizan brought up set point with a second serve ace and claimed the opener in 40 minutes.
Nadal surged 4-0 ahead in the second but 23-year-old Klizan remained a threat and recovered one of the breaks of serve.
Third seed Nadal took the second set and then moved a break ahead in the third but wobbled at 3-2 when Klizan earned two break points, only to squander his chance to draw level.
Klizan’s challenge then faded and Nadal, without looking totally convincing and carelessly dropping serve late in the fourth set, secured a Saturday clash with Italian Fabio Fognini. (Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Mark Meadows)