Rafael Nadal had some serious problems against Daniel Brands in the first round of this year’s French Open, but he eventually managed to outplay the German, setting up a clash with the world’s number thirty-five, Martin Klizan, on Thursday.

Match: Martin Klizan vs Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

Source: Rexness @ Flickr

Selection: Over 26 games

Best Odds: 1.96 @ Pinnacle

The Slovak had a much easier task in the first round, as Michael Russell had to retire after the third set, giving Martin Klizan a free pass to the second round in the process. The Slovak must have enjoyed that time off and there is no doubt that he will come into this encounter with a firm game-plan. Big hitting is the only thing that works against Nadal if you aren’t able to outplay him in longer rallies (which most players obviously aren’t) – and big hitting will indeed be expected from the Slovak on Thursday.

The good news for him is that Nadal is also likely to struggle on return, as the Spaniard has never been that great against left-handed players that can serve big, which is a description that fits Martin Klizan rather well. And the other good news is that Nadal seems to be a bit off right now, having looked fairly rusty against Daniel Brands a few days ago.

There is no doubt that the Spaniard has plenty of gears to move through once things start to be come serious, but he has a habit of not moving through them unless the situation requires him to do so, which means that the small total games line could get covered once again. After all, Klizan has what it takes to keep at least some of the sets reasonably close – and Nadal might help him with that by not being at his destructive best.