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Nadal vs Chardy ATP Rome Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Nadal resumes his search for first title of the season in Rome

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 15 May 2019
  • Rafael Nadal vs Jeremy Chardy is live from Rome on Thursday 16 May from 11.30am local/10.30am BST
  • Nadal leads the head-to-head 2-0, 4-0 in sets
Rafael Nadal. (Photo by Alberto Simon/AlterPhotos/ABACAPRESS.COM)

Rafael Nadal continues his search for his first title of the season when he plays Frenchman, Jeremy Chardy in the second round of the Rome Masters on Thursday.

Rafael Nadal's second-round match against Jeremy Chardy was postponed from Wednesday to Thursday due to heavy rain. The winner will face Nikoloz Basilashvili in the third round in the first night match on Centrale (not before 7.30pm local/6.30pm BST).

Nadal's clay-court season hasn't quite gone according to plan, as he is yet to reach a final on the dirt, let alone claim a title in 2019. The great Spaniard has suffered semi-final defeats in all three clay-court tournaments he has played this year, losing to Fabio Fognini in Monte Carlo, to Dominic Thiem in Barcelona, and most recently, to Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Madrid Open last week.

Nadal had had actually played at a very good level in Madrid, and produced arguably his best clay-court performance of the season in his quarter final decimation of Stan Wawrinka, dismissing the Swiss for the loss of just three games, but he then slipped in another below par performance against Tsitsipas, and looked particularly uncertain under pressure. Tsitsipas played superbly, but Nadal, especially in the latter stages of the final set looked rather tense and panicky, and committed a lot of uncharacteristic forehand errors.

Nadal lost just two matches on clay in 2017 and 2018 combined, romping to a 50-2 record and eight titles, but he has already lost three matches inside the first month of the 2019 clay-court season, raising questions over his position as the favourite for the French Open, especially with Novak Djokovic regaining some form in Madrid last week.

The King of Clay isn't losing sleep over his form, insisting that he has not been playing badly, and hasn’t been too far off winning those tournaments.

"Sometimes winning a title or not doesn't make a big difference. I didn't win a title. It's true I missed a couple of tournaments”, Nadal said. “At the same time, it's true that when I was playing, I was close to winning it. I didn't play good enough to win, but I didn't play very bad. I am there”.

Nadal's title drought extends beyond the clay-court season, as he is yet to win a title since beating Tsitsipas in the Toronto final last season. The Spaniard missed the concluding part of 2018, including the Nitto ATP Finals, due to a variety of injuries- knee, abdominal and ankle- while he pulled out of his scheduled season opener in Brisbane due to a thigh complaint.  He eventually began his year at the Australian Open, finishing runner-up to Novak Djokovic, while he lost to Nick Kyrgios in the second round in Acapulco. He then made the semi-finals at Indian Wells, but withdrew from a meeting with Roger Federer due a knee problem. The 32-year-old did not play again until the clay-court season.

Nadal heads into Rome as the defending champion, and seeking a ninth title at the Foro Italico. This is the last chance he's got to make a big statement before Roland Garros, and he gets it going against Jeremy Chardy on Thursday. 

“I am feeling good. I'm happy to be back here in Rome. I took a day off yesterday. I had a good sleep tonight. Just excited to be back in this special place for me. Try to have a good practice this afternoon, and let's see if I am ready to compete at the level that I want to do,” Nadal said.


Chardy is coming off a very useful run in Madrid, where he defeated two proper clay-courters, Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Diego Schwartzman, and came within a point of taking his first ever set off Novak Djokovic in the third round.
 
Chardy was blown away by Djokovic in the opening set, but he stuck with the Serbian in the second, and held a set point with Djokovic serving at 4-5. He could not seize the opportunity, and played a poor tie break to fall 6-1 7-6. Regardless of that result, he would have been pleased with that performance, and he has already registered another win in Rome, beating Richard Gasquet 6-1 4-6 6-3 to move into the second round in match carried over from Monday night, and finished on Tuesday.

Chardy is now 12-12 for the season; aside his decent week in Madrid, he has made a semi-final Brisbane, quarter final in Montpellier in the only tournaments where he's won consecutive matches this season. He is currently ranked 42nd in the world, and has done reasonably well to maintain a top-50 ranking since breaking back into that group in June last year.

He was ranked exactly 100th at the start of March last season, but fourth-round runs at Indian Wells and Miami gave him top-100 security, while he bolstered his ranking with a fine spell on grass, winning the Surbiton Challenger, finishing runner-up in s-Hertogenbosch and making the semi-finals at Queen's. He also squeezed in a clay-court semi-final in Estoril, but was 0-1 at Masters 1000 level on clay, losing to Richard Gasquet in Monte Carlo, and missing Madrid and Rome for the second straight season.

He's returned in 2019, and winning matches, but he faces the ultimate challenge on the surface when he takes on Nadal on Wednesday. 

Chardy's strengths are his serve and forehand, and if he is to have the most remote chance of winning, he has got to find a way to consistently bring those shots into play. I don't think he's getting anywhere near Nadal though. 

Nadal has beaten Chardy in straight sets in their two previous meetings, the most recent of which was in Cincinnati back in 2015. This will be their first encounter on clay. Nadal has not been in vintage form on his favourite surface, but this is a match-up that plays right into the Spaniard's hands. It's hard to see Chardy escaping the stranglehold of Nadal's crosscourt forehand relentlessly peppering the Frenchman's dodgy backhand. 

Rafael Nadal vs Jeremy Chardy is live from Rome on Thursday 16 May at 11.30am local/10.30am BST

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Nadal vs Chardy ATP Rome Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Nadal resumes his search for first title of the season in Rome

Rafael Nadal begins his title defence at the Rome Masters on Thursday when he plays Frenchman, Jeremy Chardy. Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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