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  • Rafael Nadal Powers Into Third Round At Madrid Open After Beating Alex De Minaur

Rafael Nadal powers into third round at Madrid Open after beating Alex De Minaur

Rafael Nadal thrilled his home fans and showed he is not finished yet by defeating Alex De Minaur 7-6 (6) 6-3 to reach the third round of the Madrid Open.

The 37-year-old lost to De Minaur at the same stage in Barcelona last week and gave a gloomy assessment of his physical condition ahead of this tournament, casting doubt on his participation at the French Open.

But Nadal turned the tables in this second-round encounter, powering to victory at the Caja Magica in front of the King of Spain and Real Madrid stars present and former in Vinicius Junior and Zinedine Zidane.

This was still nowhere near the Spaniard at his clay-court best, with the match littered with mistakes from both men, but it was undoubtedly a step in the right direction and there is no question about Nadal's motivation.

After breaking the De Minaur serve in the second game, he was furious when the umpire ruled he had not challenged in time in the next game with a shot over the baseline from the Australian missed by the officials.

De Minaur broke back and briefly had the advantage at 4-3 but back came Nadal, and the home favourite finally took a fifth chance in the tie-break after being pegged back from 6-2.

He celebrated with a triple fist pump and began the second set on the front foot, producing some vintage winners and keeping De Minaur scrambling around the court.

By the end of the match, Nadal was in total control and he clinched his first top-20 victory since 2022 when De Minaur double-faulted, sparking jubilant scenes in the Spanish capital.

Nadal was keen to stress afterwards that he still needs time, saying on Sky Sports: "For moments it's 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, playing over two hours, it means a lot to me and the atmosphere here is just a joke.

"If I am able to play weeks in a row, then I'm going to see how far I can go and how competitive I could be. That's not the case yet, step by step and let's see how I recover."

Nadal will next face Argentina's Pedro Cachin, who defeated Frances Tiafoe 7-6 (1) 3-6 6-4.

Top seed Jannik Sinner brushed aside fellow Italian Lorenzo Sonego 6-0 6-3 and third seed Daniil Medvedev came from a set down to see off Matteo Arnaldi.

There was a big surprise when Stefanos Tsitsipas, who was looking to make it three straight finals, lost 6-4 6-4 to Brazilian qualifier Thiago Monteiro.

In the women's event, world number one Iga Swiatek raced to a 6-1 6-1 victory over Sorana Cirstea, while Maria Sakkari saw off Sloane Stephens 6-1 6-3 and Ons Jabeur claimed a much-needed 7-5 2-6 6-4 win over Leylah Fernandez.

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