French Open: Rafael Nadal defeats Daniel Brands at Roland Garros
Last Updated: 28/05/13 1:45pm
Defending French Open champion Rafael Nadal was given an opening round scare before coming through in four sets against big-serving German Daniel Brands.
Nadal lost the opening set to 59th ranked Brands, before eventually sealing a 4-6 7-6 (4) 6-4 6-3 victory in two hours and 54 minutes.
He improved his Paris record to 53 wins against just one loss, which came against Robin Soderling back in 2009, and remains on course for a record-breaking eighth crown at Roland Garros.
Brands, who had lost all four first round matches he had contested in Paris, mixed up his tactics early on with some big serving and heavy hitting.
He forced the Spaniard into a rare double fault at 4-4 to break before holding his nerve and serving out the opening set in comfortable fashion.
The 6ft 5in player from Deggendorf reached the BMW Open semi-final in Munich earlier this year before losing to compatriot Philipp Kohlschreiber.
And he was proving a real handful on Philippe Chatrier court which quickly filled up ahead of the second set.
It went to a tie-break after both players held their serve and although Brands opened up a 3-0 lead with his all-out attacking style, Nadal came roaring back to claim it 7-4 thanks a trademark forehand passing shot down the line.
Nadal is now 37-2 since returning in February after a seven-month layoff because of a left knee injury.
The Mallorcan, playing his first Grand Slam tournament since a shock second round defeat at Wimbledon last year, then broke his opponent's service game for the first time at the start of the third set as he asserted his authority.
The 25-year-old Brands failed to sustain his high risk tactics and his resistance was broken again at the start of the fourth set by Nadal who eventually raced away with the match.
Nadal has been the most successful player on the tour since his return from injury in February, winning six titles from eight finals.
"He was playing unbelievable. I tried to find my game and tried to resist his fantastic shots," said Nadal, who will face either Martin Klizan of Slovakia or Michael Russell of the United States for a place in the last 32.
"He played a great match and put me in a tricky situation."