Madrid : Norrie and Evans reach 3R on day Nadal makes return

For the first time in the history of clay court Masters series event, Britain has three players sitting in the third round of the Mutua Madrid Open following the success on Wednesday, with both Cameron Norrie and Dan Evans joining Andy Murray who progressed the previous day to face the top seeded Novak Djokovic in what should be an intriguing encounter on Thursday.

very comeback is different. We had to put all circumstances together to analyze every single comeback, and today has been a very important match for me, playing at home on clay against a player that has been playing well for the past couple of months Rafael Nadal

British No.1 Norrie, seeded 9, beat big-serving unseeded American John Isner 6-4 6-7(5) 6-4 while the unseeded Evans caused a minor upset when he dispatched one of the home favourite clay court experts, Roberto Bautista Agut, 6-3 5-7 7-6(2).

All three now have tricky opponents to improve the British record.

The 26-year-old Norrie, ranked 11th in the world, was able to contain the one-dimensional play of Isner with decisive breaks at key moments of the first and third sets to make it through and set up a date with the multi-talented rising teenage star Carlos Alcaraz, the 7th seed and a player with all the shots.


Dan Evans celebrates after defeating the more experienced Spanish clay-courter

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Evans was also impressive and resolute in his three set victory and will no doubt hope he can do better than compatriot Jack Draper, whom he could have met had the 20-year-old taken advantage of his opportunities against the 6th seed Andrey Rublev.


Rafael Nadal comes back in good form

Mateo Villalba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

The day however, belonged to the Spanish icon Rafa Nadal making a welcome return to the Tour following an 11-week lay off with a rib injury.

And he certainly didn’t disappoint as the ‘King of Clay’, chasing his sixth Madrid Masters crown, started his campaign with a solid 6-1 7-6(4) victory over Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic 6-1 7-6(4) despite losing momentum when rain suspended play early in the second set, for his first win on clay in 11 months.

The 35-year-old Spanish icon with a record 21 Grand Slam titles to his name, struck the ball with explosive power but had to recover from failing to serve out the match at 6-5 in the second before sealing his victory in just under two hours for his 21st win of the season, his only loss coming in the Indian Wells final.

“Every comeback is different. We had to put all circumstances together to analyze every single comeback, and today has been a very important match for me, playing at home on clay against a player that has been playing well for the past couple of months,” Nadal said in his post-match press conference.

“Put everything together, a very tough first round,” Nadal added. “I think I managed it very well. I played at a good level, so very pleased with the victory. I just try to stay humble to know things not going to be perfect here and just moving forward with the right determination, to accept that I need to fight, I need to stay positive. I need to play with the right attitude, and take every single match that I’m able to win like a present to play another time here.”

His next opponent will be Belgium’s David Goffin who took out the Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp 6-4 6-2.

Defending champion Alexander Zverev, the world No.3, came from a set down to defeat Croatia’s Marin Cilic 4-6 6-4 6-4 while Monte Carlo winner Stefanos Tsitsipas, seeded 4, made light work of wild card Lucas Pouille defeating the Frenchman 6-3 6-4.

Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti outclassed Sebastian Korda of the US 6-4 6-3 and the resurgent Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov crushed Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, the 13th seed 6-0 6-3 while Serbia’s qualifier, Dusan Lajovic upended Norway’s fifth seeded Casper Ruud 7-6(7) 2-6 6-4.

Tomorrow, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray will meet for a first time in over four years with the Serbian leading the Briton 25-11.

“I have seen a few of his matches,” Djokovic said. “He’s moving well, playing better and better. It’s really fantastic to see, because he’s an important player for our game. He’s made his mark in the history of our sport by winning multiple slams and gold medals and No. 1 of the world. He’s one of the most important names that we have.

“To have him still compete is great, and to have him even play at the high level as the time goes by is impressive, considering the surgery and what he has been through in the last few years. His resilience and fighting spirit is really inspiring.”




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