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Rafael Nadal defeats Simone Bolelli in first round of Roland Garros

France Tennis French Open

Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates after winning his first round match of the French Open tennis tournament against Italy’s Simone Bolelli at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France, Tuesday, May 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

AP

PARIS (AP) Rafael Nadal narrowly avoided dropping a set at the French Open for the first time in three years and finished off his rain-interrupted 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (9) victory over 129th-ranked Simone Bolelli of Italy.

Beginning his bid for a record-extending 11th championship at Roland Garros, Nadal needed to erase four set points to close things out Tuesday.

Bolelli produced a drop volley winner for a 6-3 lead in the tiebreaker, but Nadal discarded that trio of set points with an ace, a backhand volley winner and an inside-out forehand winner. Bolelli then had another set point at 7-6, but put a forehand return in the net.

From there, it took Nadal three match points to finish, reaching the second round when Bolelli missed a forehand.

Nadal grabbed the opening two sets Monday, but trailed 3-0 in the third when play was suspended because of rain.

Nadal hasn’t ceded a set at the French Open since 2015, when he was beaten in the quarterfinals by Novak Djokovic. In 2016, Nadal withdrew with an injured left wrist after a pair of easy victories, then claimed every set he played last year en route to the trophy.