Mixed bag for Nadal to begin Monte Carlo defence
It was a topsy-turvy start to his quest for a 10th Monte-Carlo Masters title for Rafael Nadal, who defeat Kyle Edmund in three sets.
Rafael Nadal made an impressive start to his Monte-Carlo Masters campaign before somewhat stumbling over the line against a defiant Kyle Edmund on Wednesday.
The Spaniard, who claimed a remarkable ninth crown at this ATP 1000 event last year, lived up to his nickname as the 'King of Clay' by subjecting his opponent to a first-set bagel.
Edmund looked in danger of making a swift exit when he fell an early break down in the second but the Brit fought back to force a decider.
A pulsating final set swung one way and then another with both men dropping serve, but it was Nadal who ultimately kept his cool to advance 6-0 5-7 6-3 and set up a third-round meeting with Alexander Zverev.
Edmund had eased past compatriot Dan Evans in straight sets on Monday, but that form deserted him in the opening set as a series of unforced errors - many on his usually reliable forehand - allowed Nadal to assume control.
A wild forehand handed Nadal the opening set in fitting fashion, and another error on that side gave the Spaniard a break and a 2-1 lead in the second.
This time, however, Edmund hit back immediately and with the forehand now working to his advantage, the world number 45 reeled off another break for a 4-2 lead.
Nadal pulled it back on serve at the first time of asking but Edmund kept up the pressure and converted set point with his opponent trying to hold for a tie-break.
Over three successive games midway through the decider, the momentum swung from one man to the other as two Nadal breaks sandwiched one from Edmund, whose challenge was eventually ended by a backhand into the net as the Spaniard began his defence and tilt at a 10th title in trademark battling style.