Rafael Nadal had to come from a set down to beat the German Daniel Brands 4-6 7-6 6-4 6-3 in a testing first round encounter at the French Open.

The seven times champion at Paris, who has compiled a phenomenal 53-1 record in the clay court major, was made to draw his best tennis by Brands, whose powerful first serve and sizzling ground strokes had the Spaniard in all sorts of trouble.

The unlikeliest of upsets looked on the cards as the towering German clinched the first set 6-4 and led 3-0 in the second set tiebreak before Nadal rallied to chalk out seven of the next eight points to level things up at one set all.

The Mallorcan native then broke Brands in the opening game of the third, which proved to be decisive and two more times in the fourth set to close out a tight contest and guarantee his progression into the next round.

Nadal praised the quality of tennis put up by his opponent and admitted on being relieved to see him out.

He said to atprworldtour.com: “He was playing unbelievable. I just tried to find my game and tried to resist his fantastic shots. He played a fantastic match and put me in a very difficult situation. I'm very happy to be through.”

The eleven times grand slam winner is vying to become the first player to win eight titles in the same major tournament, and has come into this year’s competition in a rich vein of form.

He has won six of the eight tournaments that he has featured in since making a comeback in February from a long injury lay off, finishing runner-up in the other two.

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