Rafael Nadal beats Daniel Brands at French Open 2013
- Roland Garros, Paris
- 26 May to 9 June
- Live radio and text commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, 5 live sports extra, BBC Sport website, mobiles and the BBC Sport app
Rafael Nadal survived one of his toughest matches at the French Open as he overcame Germany's Daniel Brands in four sets to reach round two.
The seven-time champion began the defence of his title with an unexpectedly testing 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 6-3 win over the world number 59.
Nadal was in deep trouble at a set down and 0-3 in the second set tie-break, sparking memories of
Lukas Rosol caused one of the biggest upsets in tennis history when he beat Nadal at Wimbledon last year, and a subsequent with a knee injury meant the Spaniard was only now returning to Grand Slam action.
He ran into another seemingly routine opponent finding the form of his life, as Brands's heavy serve and flat groundstrokes kept him on the back foot for the first two sets.
"Sometimes, when you feel you are hitting not a bad shot and every time comes back a bomb and a winner from the beginning, sometimes that's frustrating," Nadal said afterwards.
With a two-set deficit looming, Nadal fought his way out of trouble to take the second set with successive forehand and backhand winners down the line.
He then broke the Brands serve for the first time in the match, but had to see off three break points as the German pushed him all the way in the third set.
Two breaks in the fourth helped Nadal to a relatively comfortable finish, but his 53rd win in 54 matches at Roland Garros was one of the more memorable as he dropped only the 15th set in that remarkable run.
"At two sets to love, I don't say that I wouldn't have a chance, because I always hope that there is a chance and I will keep fighting," said Nadal. "But you have to play under a lot of pressure the rest of the match.
"So I found the solution at the right time.
"At 5-4 [in the tie-break] I think I played two break points - one winner with my forehand down the line, and then a fantastic return winner down the line with my backhand.
"In the right moment I hit two fantastic shots and that probably was the match."
Nadal will play Martin Klizan, the world number 35 from Slovakia, in round two.