Rafael Nadal: ‘I was prepared for a tough week’

Rafael Nadal skipped six weeks due to a rib injury from Indian Wells. The Spaniard withdrew from his beloved events in Monte Carlo and Barcelona and returned to action in Madrid last year. A four-time Caja Magica champion failed to seek the fifth crown following the quarter-final loss. Nadal was prepared for this outcome after staying away from the court for a month and a half. The Spaniard will use those three matches to gain confidence, knowing what he has to improve in Rome and Paris. Nadal made a winning start in Madrid with a 6-1, 7-6 triumph over Miomir Kecmanovic. Rafa played on a high level in the opener before experiencing issues in the second after losing the range from his backhand. Nadal served for the win at 6-5 in the second set, only to get broken and keep the Serb in contention. The home favorite claimed the tie break 7-4 to seal the deal and secure the victory.

Nadal faced David Goffin in the third round, seeking the fifth victory against the Belgian from seven meetings. Rafa built a 6-3, 5-3 lead before David bounced back to make it an epic encounter that lasted three hours and ten minutes! Goffin survived two match points in back-to-back games in the second set’s closing stages and rattled off four straight games to steal it and force a decider. The Belgian survived an early scare in the final set’s opening game and followed Nadal’s pace to reach a tie break. It became a roller coaster, and Rafa saved four match points with brave hitting. Goffin squandered his chances, and Nadal closed the breaker 11-9 for one of his most thrilling wins at Caja Magica. Rafa could not repeat that in the quarter-final against the young compatriot Carlos Alcaraz. A teenager overpowered the king of clay in sets one and three in a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 victory in two hours and 28 minutes.

Rafael Nadal played three matches at the Madrid Masters.

Carlos saved six out of nine break points and grabbed four return games from five opportunities to control the scoreboard and set the semi-final clash against Novak Djokovic. The youngster overpowered the veteran with 37 winners and 31 unforced errors, dictating the pace and showing his incredible skills despite an injury in the second set’s third game. Nadal got broken three times in the opening set and bounced back in the second after Alcaraz’s ankle injury. The youngster started all over in the decider, barely losing a point behind the initial shot and delivering a single break in game four to emerge at the top and end Nadal’s campaign.

“I came to Madrid with almost no preparation, and I still played three matches. I was prepared for a tough week, and I lost to an in-form rival despite having chances. I made a poor start and got broken twice against the opponent with momentum and confidence. I was out there with the right attitude, analyzing every match and gathering information about what I have to improve. Things did not go my way today, but I have a clear vision about what elements I have to improve to be competitive in Rome and Paris. I have to work and have confidence that everything will evolve in the right way,” Rafael Nadal said.