Tennis: Rafael Nadal beats Alex de Minaur in Madrid, a good omen one month before Roland-Garros

Rafael Nadal, who is attempting a final return to the top, almost 38 years old despite his battered body, scored an encouraging victory 7-6 (6), 6-3 in 2:04, against world No

Tennis: Rafael Nadal beats Alex de Minaur in Madrid, a good omen one month before Roland-Garros

Rafael Nadal, who is attempting a final return to the top, almost 38 years old despite his battered body, scored an encouraging victory 7-6 (6), 6-3 in 2:04, against world No. 11 Alex de Minaur, Saturday, April 27, in the second round of the Masters 1000 in Madrid.

Last week, Nadal lost to the same De Minaur 7-5, 6-1 in the second round in Barcelona, ​​the tournament of his resumption after more than three months without playing. The Spaniard with 22 Grand Slam titles, who had not beaten a top 20 player since November 2022, took a nice revenge. One month before Roland-Garros (from May 26 to June 9), this victory is likely to raise the rating of his presence in Paris on the beloved land of his fourteen triumphs.

During his pre-tournament press conference earlier this week, Nadal warned that he would only compete at Roland Garros if he felt “ready enough”. “Otherwise, it doesn’t make sense,” he said.

“There is room for improvement.”

In the closed-door “Caja Magica” on Saturday afternoon, during an extended first set, 76 minutes long, “Rafa” was more than a pre-retirement legend who came to say goodbye at home. On the central course: stronger blows in the exchange, despite a certain waste, even a few vintage strikes, recalling the time when he reigned as absolute sovereign on the clay, brandished fists with biceps bulging. In the stands: “si se puede”, the Spanish equivalent of “Yes, you can”, chanted by the fully committed Madrid public, obviously in the cause of their champion.

Was he going to go the distance, when he has only played six matches since the start of the year, and ten since the start of 2023? With the physical limits that he makes no secret of and which are now imposed on him? The answer is yes. “There is room for improvement, but it means a lot to me to have been able to play an entire match,” Nadal appreciated afterwards. Last week (in Barcelona), I was only able to be competitive for one set. Today, I was able to be there for more than two hours, and on top of that there is victory. »

In the third round, the Majorcan will face the Argentinian Pedro Cachin (91st), who defeated the American Frances Tiafoe in three sets (7-6, 3-6, 6-4).