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Nadal puts blue clay behind him

ESPN staff
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Rafael Nadal got back to winning ways © Getty Images
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Rafael Nadal returned to winning ways on what he described as "normal clay" at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome.

After being frustrated in his early exit at last week's Madrid Masters - played on controversial blue clay - Nadal was given a stern test in the second set by Florian Mayer, but eventually trumped his opponent to claim a 6-1 7-5 victory on Wednesday.

Nadal seemed determined to send a message from the off, as he dropped just three points - all on second serves - on his serve in the first set, as he ripped Mayer's delivery apart despite the German getting 76 per cent of his first serves in the court.

The second set was an altogether tougher proposition, however, as Mayer suddenly found a way to hold firm on his own serve even as his percentages dropped. Nadal was frustrated for long periods of the second stanza but finally made the decisive breakthrough with the scores at 5-5, giving him the opportunity to close out the contest on his own serve.

It was an opportunity that, perhaps unsurprisingly, he took - setting up a third round tie against Marcel Granollers.

Roger Federer was among the other second round winners on Wednesday.

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