Nadal’s heart continues to beat in Madrid

The Spaniard will meet Lehecka in the round of 16

April 29, 2024

Rafael Nadal celebrates a point at the Mutua Madrid Open 2024.
By Staff

The Manolo Santana Stadium held its breath and Rafael Nadal gave it a new oxygen ball. The Spaniard advanced this Monday to the fourth round at the Caja Mágica after a dramatic match, ensuring a new date for a fan who follows him on the edge of the seats. On a packed main court, the five-time champion crossed a new frontier: in addition to enjoying himself again, something he has achieved in every match, he rolled up his sleeves in a duel in which the curves appeared.

The Spaniard engaged in a match of will against the Argentine Pedro Cachín, whom he dismissed 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-3 in a fight with two completely opposite poles. After signing a start of broad dominance, drawing a first set in a straight line, the Mallorcan faced an eternal match, stretched over three hours of play. When the blows left him, giving voice to his opponent on the other side of the net, the Spaniard refused to lower his arms.

“I have had good moments and not so good moments,” declared the Spaniard during his interview on the track. “But I have found a way to achieve victory. In the third set, although I made mistakes, I was able to be a little more unpredictable. That probably changed the game.”

Obstacles were an opportunity to test yourself. In Barcelona, ​​a week ago, Nadal responded to an adverse set by measuring his effort. In Madrid, however, he insisted on finding a solution regardless of the time spent. The Spaniard resisted an elusive fate with all his might, competing in a second set in which he saved two breaks and annulled two set points before surrendering the tiebreaker.

Above the scoreboard, Madrid rediscovered the essence of a competitor of historic stature. The toughness of the second set, mainly, forced Nadal to respond to a dilemma: be satisfied or fight for the match to the extreme. By opting for the latter until winning the third set, the Mallorcan took another step towards his goal: leaving the court feeling resilient and competitive.

After climbing to the round of 16, placing himself among the best in the tournament, the Spaniard achieved more than just a good result this Monday. Nadal made sure to play at least four matches at the Caja Mágica, close to those played in the last two years. The feeling of continuity in his step, something lost for a long time, timidly peeked out again in the brick dust. If the Spanish capital is a test of effort tolerance, the Mallorcan continues to accumulate conclusions in his notebook.

Nadal’s gaze will immediately be placed before a new challenge. With just one hour to recover, the Spaniard will play this Tuesday in the round of 16 at the Caja Mágica against the Czech Jiri Lehecka, an opponent he has never faced before with blows as hard as steel. The world No. 31, whose forehand is among the crudest in the locker room, promises to be a litmus test for the mobility of the Spaniard, one of the great workhorses in his re-entry into the circuit.

“We’ll see how I get up tomorrow. I have to go day by day, enjoying the fact of competing at home. It’s something that means everything to me. I have to do my best to continue dreaming. Tomorrow is another day to continue enjoying in front of this fantastic audience. For me, that’s everything.”

Now, the Spaniard faces a trial by fire: competing on consecutive days and trying to emerge unscathed from the effort.

Did you know…?
Rafael Nadal is the all-time champion of the Mutua Madrid Open with five individual titles. The Spaniard, winner in the 2005, 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2017 editions, is also the only player who has managed to reach three consecutive finals on the clay of the Caja Mágica.


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