'It means a lot', says Nadal as he gains quick revenge against De Minaur in Madrid

Top seed Jannik Sinner brushes aside fellow-Italian Lorenzo Sonego, while sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas falls to Brazilian qualifier Thiago Monteiro

By Reuters

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Spain's Rafael Nadal in action during his round of 64 match against Australia's Alex de Minaur - Reuters
Spain's Rafael Nadal in action during his round of 64 match against Australia's Alex de Minaur - Reuters

Published: Sun 28 Apr 2024, 12:07 AM

Rafa Nadal continued his return to form as he defeated Alex de Minaur 7-6(6) 6-3 in the second round of the Madrid Open on Saturday.

The five-time Madrid champion lost to De Minaur in Barcelona last week, but in front of another hugely partisan crowd the 37-year-old outclassed the Australian 10th seed this time around.

"The atmosphere here is just a joke so just can't thank enough everybody here," Nadal said after the crowd rose in appreciation of his display.

Nadal broke at the first opportunity to take a 2-0 lead in the opening set, but De Minaur broke back immediately after the Spaniard got involved in a heated exchange with the umpire. Nadal was clearly upset at being told he had not challenged a call in time.

He appeared rattled by the exchange, and De Minaur then broke to love to lead 4-3 but Nadal recovered and broke again to level, and in the tiebreak he raced into a 6-2 lead before De Minuar roared back to level at 6-6.

Nadal regained his composure to win the opening set, and continued in the same vein as he broke serve in the first game of the second set, and ran out an easy winner to the acclaim of the Madrid crowd.

"Super happy to be able to be competitive against a great player like Alex, and play over two hours, it means a lot to me," Nadal said.

In what will probably be his last season, Nadal's comeback in January after almost a year out with a hip injury ended early due to a thigh issue, and his recent return in Barcelona was halted by De Minaur in the second round.

"I really believe that tennis hasn't been an issue for the last two years, more the physical issues," Nadal said.

"If I'm able to play weeks in a row and if I'm able to play tennis then I'm going to see how far I can go and how competitive I can be, but that's not the case yet, just step by step and lets see how I recover."

Nadal will face Pedro Cachin next, after the Argentine defeated American Frances Tiafoe 7-6(1) 3-6 6-4.

Top seed Jannik Sinner had little trouble against fellow-Italian Lorenzo Sonego, with the world number two winning 6-0 6-3, while sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was knocked out 6-4 6-4 by Brazilian qualifier Thiago Monteiro.

Russian third seed Daniil Medvedev came from a set down to beat Italian Matteo Arnaldi 2-6 6-4 6-4 and will meet America's Sebastian Korda in the third round. (Reporting by Trevor Stynes, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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