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Apr 27, 2024 2:01 pm

Rafael Nadal avenges loss to Alex de Minaur, advances in Madrid

nadal jordan thompson roland garros

Rafael Nadal showed Australia’s Alex de Minaur — and the rest of the world — that he’s not ready to relinquish his crown as the king of clay, defeating him 7-6 (6), 6-3 in the second round at the Mutua Madrid Open on Saturday.

Last week, World No. 11 de Minaur knocked out Nadal at Barcelona in straight sets. This week, it was a different story as Nadal posted his first win against a Top 20 opponent since 2022.

Nadal, 37, has been hampered much of the past year by a hip flexor injury. And while he didn’t declare himself in top form, the Spaniard was excited to win on his home turf.

“I think for moments it has been a good level of tennis,” he said after the match. “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 converted four of his five break opportunities against de Minaur, the 10th seed. A five-time winner in Madrid, Nadal used his baseline winners to score, thrilling a crowd that included King Felipe VI.

Three tournaments remain between Madrid and the French Open, Nadal’s signature event, which he has won 14 times — most recently in 2022. Nadal, expected to retire after the end of this season, wants nothing more to be healthy for what likely will be one final run at Roland Garros.

“I really believe that tennis hasn’t been an issue for the last two years. More the physical issues,” he said. “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 Nadal-de Minaur match was part of a packed Saturday schedule that also saw No. 1 seed Jannik Sinner and No. 3 seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia advance to the third round.

Sinner topped fellow Italian Lorenzo Sonego 6-0, 6-3, and Medvedev dispatched Italy’s Matteo Arnaldi 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

World No. 2, Sinner moved to 26-2 on the season. He won his first Grand Slam event at the Australian Open, and he also has wins in Rotterdam and Miami.

Thiago Monteiro of Brazil upset No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 6-4, 6-4, hitting 24 winners against just four errors. Pedro Cachin of Argentina knocked out No. 20 Frances Tiafoe 7-6 (1), 3-6, 6-4.

Also advancing to the third round were No. 25 seed Sebastian Korda, Russia’s Pavel Kotov and Czech Jiri Lehecka.

–Field Level Media

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