Rafa rolls into Madrid fourth round

FIVE-TIME Madrid Masters winner Rafael Nadal has reached the fourth round of the 2024 event after seeing off a determined Pedro Cachin in a hard-fought three-setter. Nadal needed three hours and four minutes to defeat the Argentinian, eventually getting up 6-1 6-7 6-3 on Manolo Santana Stadium.

It looked easy going for the Spaniard in the first set, cruising to a 6-1 win, but the second was far tougher. Needing a tiebreaker, Cachin won the set of a great cross-court winner to break Nadal in that moment and claim it, 7-6. The class and experience rose to the top in the decider though, with Nadal breaking his less experienced opponent in the fifth game, and then again in the last game to take it out 6-3.

It marked Nadal’s first fourth round appearance at an ATP Tour event since 2022, with his inside-out forehand a trademark of his career, and indeed the match itself. Though far from perfect, Nadal was pleased he was able to survive and fight another day in his home nation.

“Some moments were good, some moments not good, but I found a way to go through,” Nadal said post-match. “In the third set, even with some mistakes, I was able to be a little more unpredictable and that probably changed the match.”

Nadal takes on 30th seeded Czech Jiri Lehecka in the Round of 16, with the protected ranking Spaniard just taking the twilight of his career each day as it comes. For now, though, he is living in the moment.

“I am enjoying. Let’s see how I wake up tomorrow,” Nadal said. “I don’t know. Day by day I am enjoying playing at home, it means everything to me. I am trying my best to keep dreaming. Tomorrow is another day to keep dreaming. To keep playing in front of this amazing crowd and to me that means everything.”

The Spaniard increased his record in Madrid to 59-14, and will be gunning for a 10th straight quarter final at the event. If successful, he will play the winner of Daniil Medvedev or Alexander Bublik in the last eight.

In other results, Medvedev overcame American Sebastian Korda in three sets, while Bublik had an equallt touch assignment against Ben Shelton, as both players came from a set down to win. Felix Auger-Aliassime won after 36 minutes with Czech Jakub Mensik retiring in the first game of the second set. Norwegian Casper Ruud, top seed Jannik Sinner and dangerous Russian Karen Khachanov all won their third round matches in straight sets.

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