Rain halts play with Bolelli fighting back against Nadal

Rafael Nadal was two sets up but a break down in the third when rain brought a premature end to his match with Simone Bolelli.

Rafael Nadal celebrates during his French Open first-round clash   -  Getty Images

Inclement weather meant Simone Bolelli's fightback against defending French Open champion Rafael Nadal was halted in its tracks in the third set on Monday.

Nadal, seeking a remarkable 11th singles crown at Roland Garros, was not quite at his belligerent best in this first-round encounter on Court Philippe Chatrier but managed to take the first two sets 6-4 6-3.

World number 129 Bolelli, taking his place in the main draw as a lucky loser following Alexandr Dolgopolov's withdrawal, matched Nadal for much of the opening set and produced some superb tennis at the start of the second, moving a break up before his opponent surged through the gears.

The King of Clay reeled off five straight games to clinch that second set and leave Bolelli with a mountain to climb, but the Italian was unbowed by the task and broke early in the third en route to a 3-0 lead.

Light rain had been falling since the end of the second set and, as the precipitation became heavier, the players headed for the changing rooms, from where they did not return as the Paris skies darkened with thunderstorms forecast.

Despite facing the greatest clay-court player in the history of the sport, Bolelli's defiance was evident in rescuing three break points in game four - the last of which was staved off with a confident volley at the net.

His respite was only brief, however, as Nadal forged two set points in game 10 and a ripping return meant Bolelli was forced wide and could only net.

The Italian secured a break to open the second set, but a big inside-out forehand got Nadal back on serve at 3-3. The momentum was firmly with the Spaniard as he sent a forehand up the line for a second break and 5-3, before Bolelli netted a return to fall two sets behind.

As at the start of the second, Bolelli broke Nadal at the first time of asking in the third, sending the world number one scampering almost into the lap of the fans on the front row in a vain attempt to chase down a perfectly placed return.

But those supporters were denied an opportunity to see if Bolelli could make his comeback stick as the officials decided the rain was too heavy to continue, with the action set to resume on Tuesday.

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