Madrid | Nadal gains revenge over De Minaur; Tsitsipas and Dimitrov also bow out.

The King of Spain joined the packed Caja Magica to watch the King of Clay produce an outstanding performance to avenge the straight sets defeat he suffered last week in Barcelona at the hands of the same opponent.

If I am able to play tennis for a few weeks in a row, then I will see how far I can go. It's just a case of going step by step and seeing how things go Rafa Nadal

King Felipe VI will have been delighted at seeing Rafa Nadal produce more than snatches of the action for which he is best known and used to establish a series mouth-watering clay court records which will be very hard to match, let alone break!

On this occasion, having earlier in the week warned the public that he wasn’t fit enough to compete at Roland Garros, the unseeded 37-year-old Mallorcan, defeated Alex de Minaur, the Aussi ‘Demon’ world ranked 11 and 10th seed, 7-6(6) 6-3 with a masterful display which proves there is still a ‘tiger in the tank’!

It was certainly a better test of his fitness than his first round stroll against 16-year-old Darwin Blanch who managed one game against him, and hopefully will ease his concerns when it comes to Roalnd Garros where he is still one of the favourites for the title which if successful, would improve his tally there to a remarkable 15!

Nadal obviously approached the match knowing he shouldn’t let the Demon get an early foothold so breaking De Minaur in the opening game provided him with the perfect start.

He held for 2-0 but was then broken back but the scene was set. It wasn’t going to be a walkover for the speedy Australian.

The pair swapped breaks which kept the pressure mounting and it was left to the tie-break to settle the matter.

There, Nadal, to the delight of the partisan crowd, swept into a 6-2 lead only to then fail to convert one of the four set points he had to hand!

But he made amends when he produced a stunning backhand to raise his fifth set point and then collected the set when De Minaur struck a forehand return long after an hour and 16 minutes of play.

Following a comfort break, Nadal opened the second set to move 3-1 up and was now seemingly enjoying being back on his favourite surface.

Another brilliant backhand kept him ahead for 4-2 and things were definitely looking to be more comfortable for the five-time former champion.

Again the backhand proved invaluable in the final stages as it produced two match points on De Minaur’s serve at 5-3, with the Aussie salvaging the first only to then serve a double fault, his third of the match.

Speaking after his victory, Nadal was quick to play down his form saying he was just happy to win, especially on home soil.

“No, not yet. It needs time,” he said with a laugh. “I think for moments it has 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, play over two hours. It means a lot to me and the atmosphere here is just a joke, so I can’t thank enough everybody here.”

“If I am able to play tennis for a few weeks in a row, then I will see how far I can go. It’s just a case of going step by step and seeing how things go.”


Stefanos Tsitsipas (L) congratulates Thiago Monteiro on his win

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Next up for Nadal is a third-round meeting with Argentina’s Pedro Cachin, who upset the 20th seed, American Frances Tiafoe 7-6(1) 3-6 6-4 earlier on Saturday.

That seemed to herald the exit of a number of seeds, including the sixth seeded Greek, Stefanos Tsitsipas who was stunned by Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro 6-4 6-4.

The Brazilian secured the first set after 39-minutes and while Tsitsipas fought back from a break down in the second, the world No.118 advanced into the third round on his fourth match point for the best win of his career.

Speaking after the match he said: “For sure it’s one of the biggest wins of my career. I knew it would be a tough match. I tried to just believe in myself all the time.

“I was feeling really good on the court and I’ve been playing for three matches already. I had a bit of rhythm and confidence. I just fought until the end and believed.”

A forlorn Tsitsipas, the Monte Carlo champion, admitted: “I had a very good opponent on the other side of the net. He was coming up with great shots and punishing me every single time I played short. I didn’t manage to get the depth of the court.

“He was very aggressive, very persistent.”

Monteiro will next take on the Czech Jiri Lehecka, seeded 30, who eased past Serbian qualifier Hamad Mediedovic 7-5 6-4.


Teenager Jakub Mensik showing excellent focus

(Photo by Mateo Villalba/Getty Images)

Also out is Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov, the ninth seed, who has only just broken back into the top ten of the world rankings.

The 32-year-old lost out to 18-year-old Czech Jakub Mensik 6-2 6-7(4) 6-3 who is making quite a name for himself having also beaten Andrey Rublev in Doha last February.

“Right now I cannot describe it. I’m just speechless,” Mensik said. “I just wanted to play my best game ever. I know that Grigor is in super-good form, he showed in Miami, in Monte-Carlo he played good. His game style on the clay court [makes him] a really tough opponent.

“I’m super happy with me and also with my team, that we worked really hard. Another ‘W’, so hopefully I will continue next match.”

The teenager faces Canada’s Felix Auger Aliassime in the next round after he surprisingly upset the 19th seed from France, Adrian Mannarino 6-0 6-4.

The last seed to be ousted on the day was Chile’s Nicolas Jarry, 22, who was eventually soundly beaten by Italy’s Flavio Cobolli 6-3 3-6 6-3.

On the positive side Jannik Sinner (1) Karen Khachanov (16), Casper Ruud (5), Daniil Medvedev (3), Sebastian Korda (25), Alexander Bublik (17) and Ben Shelton (14) are through to the next round as is Britain’s No.1 Cameron Norrie, (29) who comfortably defeated the Brazilian wildcard, Joao Fonseca 6-1 6-4. He will now face Norway’s No.1, Casper Ruud!


Cameron Norrie keeps British hopes alive

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)


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