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Rafael Nadal enjoyed his return to Rome comfortably beating Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 6-3 and it now sets up an exciting-looking contest against the up-and-coming Nick Kyrgios on Thursday.
And for Nadal, while being delighted with the way he played against German Kohlschreiber, he knows all too well the threat his younger opponent brings. Australian Kyrgios beat Nadal at Wimbledon 2014, their only meeting, and the Spaniard is ready for the challenge of an opponent who knocked out 10th seed Milos Raonic.
“I was very satisfied,” he said on his second round win. “I think I played at a very high level in all aspects. I think the forehand down the line, that is very important shot for me. In Madrid I missed it but it worked great tonight. And I feel like I practiced well these two days, and I started very good the tournament.
“The next match is a tough match against a player that is for sure today one of the best players of the world. He played well against a tough opponent like Raonic, so will be a tough match for me. I need to be playing very well and it’s an opportunity to play against a great player. I’m excited about it.
“He has a great level everywhere. He played great in Madrid. He played I think well in Estoril. And now he already won two matches here in straight sets against especially today against a very difficult opponent.
“Tennis is not all about Grand Slams, and he’s in a very good position on the raise at this moment. He’s 11 or 12. He’s in very good position with more than half a year on surfaces that he likes. I think he’s having a great year.”