Madrid Open: Rafael Nadal wins dramatic match against Alex de Minaur, reaches third-round

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MADRID (Spain) : Rafael Nadal demonstrated flashes of his classic best in a commanding second-round dramatic victory against Alex de Minaur at the Madrid Open on Saturday.

The Spaniard delighted his home supporters with a 7-6(6), 6-3 victory, his first over a Top 20 opponent in the ATP Rankings since the 2022 ATP Finals.

In his second ATP Head2Head match against De Minaur in as many weeks, Nadal overcame a straight-sets loss in Barcelona with an amazing performance at the Caja Magica.

The five-time Madrid champion put on a tenacious performance consisting of thumping baseline winners and characteristic fist pumps, consistently impressing an audience that included King Felipe VI and Real Madrid stars present and former in Vinicius Junior and Zinedine Zidane.

During the match, Nadal had a disagreement with the umpire over a missed challenge against Alex De Minaur.

While Nadal was quick to deny that the old Rafa had returned, he was pleased to advance on home grounds.

“No, not yet. It needs time. I think for moments it has been a good level of tennis. I was able to do positive things, but still on and off. I’m super happy to be able to be competitive against a great player like Alex, play over two hours. It means a lot to me and the atmosphere here is just a joke, so I can’t thank enough everybody here,” Nadal said as quoted by ATP.

After a thrilling 77-minute opening set, Nadal broke immediately in the second set and did not face a break point the rest of the way to victory. After a series of hot strokes in the first set, Nadal was more consistent in the second, bringing up match chances with a magnificent backhand passing shot.
After competing for more than two hours in the victory, and despite his improved level on the court, Nadal stated that his physical condition is still his primary worry.

“I really believe that tennis hasn’t been an issue for the last two years. More the physical issues. If I am able to play weeks in a row and if I am able to play tennis, then I’m going to see how far I can go and how competitive I could be. But that’s not the case yet, just step by step and let’s see how I recover,” the five-time Madrid champion said.

Nadal will next take on Argentina’s Pedro Cachin in the third-round meeting, who upset Frances Tiafoe 7-6(1), 3-6, 6-4 earlier on Saturday. (ANI)

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