Fitter, improved Rafael Nadal exacts revenge on Alex de Minaur with vintage display in Madrid Open 2R

Fitter, improved Rafael Nadal exacts revenge on Alex de Minaur
Fitter, improved Rafael Nadal exacts revenge on Alex de Minaur

Rafael Nadal exacted revenge on Alex de Minaur for his loss at the Barcelona Open last week, beating the Aussie in straight sets on Saturday during their second-round clash at the 2024 Madrid Open.

When the two faced off in Barcelona, De Minaur prevailed in straight sets, winning 7-5, 6-1. In Madrid, however, Nadal appeared far more at ease, taking control of things early on in his second clay tournament of the season. Although his early 2-0 lead slipped away soon, he showed glimpses of his vintage self at several points in the clash and looked far better than he was last week.

Down a break at 3-4, the 22-time Grand Slam champion defended at his best, restoring parity and then forcing the tiebreaker. He raced to a 6-2 lead in the tiebreak, only for De Minaur to fight back and level things at 6-6. Thankfully, the Mallorcan converted his following (fifth) set point to take it 7-6 (6).

The second set started with Nadal earning a break once again on De Minaur's serve. From 1-0, Nadal consolidated to go 3-1 up and then 4-2 up. From there, the former World No. 1 did not let his nerves get him again, wrapping up the set up 6-3 with a final break of serve to get past the 10th seed.

In the lead-up to the clash, Nadal's coach Carlos Moya had promised fans that the Spaniard was fitter than he was in Barcelona, a statement backed up by his display on the night.

"It will be a different match from Barcelona. There he did not see him prepared against a rival like Alex. I think tomorrow will be a little different. Without being ideal, I think we will see Rafa who has spent 8 days and that every minute he spends on the track is a minute of improvement."
"He has spent more hours on the track, he is now more fit. I think that tomorrow we can have a more competitive game than the other day," Moya had said.

The head-to-head between the southpaw and De Minaur is now 4-2 in the former's favor, with their record on clay tied at 1-1.

Rafael Nadal to take on Pedro Cachin in Madrid Open 3R

Mutua Madrid Open - Day Five
Mutua Madrid Open - Day Five

Following his win over Alex de Minaur, Rafael Nadal will now take on Pedro Cachin in the third round of the 2024 Madrid Open. Cachin pulled off an upset in the second round, beating America's Frances Tiafoe in a close-three setter to reach the next stage.

Nadal and Cachin have never met on the ATP Tour before and will face off for the first time in Madrid. The winner of their battle will take on either Jiri Lehecka or Thiago Monteiro in the fourth round of the Masters 1000 event.

What is the foot injury that has troubled Rafael Nadal over the years? Check here

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