Nadal shines in Madrid win

Rafael Nadal avenged his defeat to Alex de Minaur from Barcelona with a 7-6 (8/6), 6-3 victory over the Australian on Saturday to extend his stay in Madrid on his final appearance at his home tournament but admitted he still “needs time” to return to his competitive peak.

Nadal’s farewell tour has pitted him against De Minaur twice in as many weeks but this time the result was reversed as the 22-time Grand Slam champion advanced to a third-round meeting with Argentina’s Pedro Cachin.

In front of a capacity crowd that included the King of Spain, Felipe VI, French football icon Zinedine Zidane, and Real Madrid winger Vinicius Junior, Nadal dug deep to dismiss the world number 11, despite admitting ahead of the tournament he was still struggling with numerous physical issues.

It was an impressive performance from the 37-year-old but he immediately dismissed the idea it was anywhere near his vintage form.

“No, not yet. It needs time,” said Nadal on court. “To play over two hours means a lot to me and the atmosphere here is just a joke.

“Just step by step and let’s see how I recover.”

Five-time Madrid champion Nadal said he will not make a decision on playing at Roland Garros until after Rome which starts next week, and explained the key factor that would determine his participation.

“It’s not a thing about losing or winning. It’s about going on court there with the feeling that I can fight and I can be competitive,” said the record 14-time Roland Garros champion.

“So if I am not able to go on court and dream, for me it doesn’t make sense to go. I prefer to stay with all the amazing memories that I have.”

EARLY EXIT FOR TSITSIPAS

Stefanos Tsitsipas suffered a surprise second-round exit at the hands of world number 118 Thiago Monteiro.

Tsitsipas, who arrived in the Spanish capital with only one defeat in 11 matches on clay this term, lost 6-4, 6-4 to the Brazilian qualifier in just over 90 minutes.

The Greek world No 7 had a first-round bye and came into the tournament on the back of a third title triumph in Monte Carlo and a runner-up showing in Barcelona in the previous two weeks. But the left-handed Monteiro looked more comfortable on court, benefitting from having already won three matches this week, through qualifying and the main draw.

“For sure this is one of the biggest wins of my career,” said Monteiro, who is through to the third round at a Masters 1000 event for the first time.

Since the start of 2021, this is just the second time in 11 Masters clay tournaments that Tsitsipas has not made at least the quarterfinals, and the 25-year-old Greek was disappointed by his performance.

“I felt out of rhythm the entire match on my returns. I felt very disbalanced and just my body was going all over the place,” said Tsitsipas – SuperSport.

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