Nadal Wins Dramatic Third Set Tie-Break over Goffin, Keeps Alive Quest for 6th Title in Madrid

Nadal Wins Dramatic Third Set Tie-Break over Goffin, Keeps Alive Quest for 6th Title in Madrid Photo: TT
Rafael Nadal celebrates victory over David Goffin at the Caja Magica, advancing to the Madrid Open quarterfinals. May 5, 2022. Photo Courtesy: Mutua Madrid Open Media.

Five-time Madrid champion Rafael Nadal topples David Goffin, saving four match points in an epic three-set thriller, advancing for the 16th time to the quarterfinals at the Mutua Madrid Open.

Third seed Rafael Nadal earned a hard-fought three-set triumph, 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(9), over World No. 60, David Goffin on the Manolo Santana court after three hours and eight minutes on Thursday.

In his on court-interview, Nadal commented: “Honestly, it was a very tough match. I think I played at a very high level. But at the same time, I am not completely happy because I have to finish the match in straight sets, without a doubt.”

Playing only his second match since returning to action in Madrid, being sidelined from tour due to a rib injury since the Indian Wells final - held last March, the 21-Grand Slam champion’s physical condition got tested.

In that regard, Nadal outlined: “Three hours and 10 [minutes] on court, that helps to increase my physical performance.”

On the verge of defeat, after letting slip the second set, the Manacor native raised in the third, poised by a relentless fighting spirit to overcome adversity, reaching a record 99th ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinal.

Adding: “[It is] a very important victory, saving match points. That’s confidence, that gives me the chance to keep going. I need matches, and I need a day like today to be fitter sooner.”

The world number four tenacity and experience have spoken louder by the end of a breathtaking third set tie-break which kept the crowd on the edge of their seats.

During the opener, the Spanish player was handed a time violation at 2-2, 40-40, and two points later, he would get broken by Goffin, who led 3-2, albeit the advantage would soon fade out as Nadal broke back to tie things at 3-3.

The 35-year-old earned the first set last four games, coming from a break down taking a 6-3 win in 46 minutes.

Both players recorded 14 unforced errors in the opener, though the Spaniard hit ten winners compared to sixth from his adversary.

In the second set, the ‘King of Clay’ broke early to lead 2-1, backing up his break of serve to open a 3-1 advantage over the 31-year-old, despite hitting two double faults.

Goffin lacked consistency during the first half of the second set, but the Belgian player, who has dealt with a knee injury, which forced him to bring his 2021 season to an early end, had no plans to quit the fight.

The former world number seven, who passed qualifying in Madrid, came out solid, striking back from 3-5 down to pull even 5-5, breaking Nadal when serving for the match at 6-5 after 62 minutes.

And he didn’t stop there; the 6-time ATP titlist would save two match points, winning the tie break 7-5, forcing his rival to play a decider.

The third set remained tight, each player holding their serve, leading to a nail-biting tie-break.

Eventually, Nadal prevailed over the 2022 Grand Prix Hassan II champion (Marrakech), saving four match points in remarkable fashion.

I needed match minutes, maybe not that many, to go into tomorrow’s match with more solidity. But you have to be realistic, and I know that it’s a difficult week,” he further asserted.

Whatever happens, having won two matches here is great news. I’m sure it will help me a lot and anything is possible tomorrow.”

The Australian Open champion opened his campaign in Madrid, edging Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in straight sets 6-1, 7-6(4).

Overall, Nadal fired 35 winners, recording 37 unforced errors, winning 76 percent of his first-service points and 54 percent with his second.

Meanwhile, Goffin hit 39 winners, recording 42 unforced errors, winning 67 percent of his first-service points and 45 percent with his second.

Next, a Spanish duel will be staged at the Caja Magica Stadium when Nadal meets seventh seed Carlos Alcaraz, who put out Briton Cameron Norrie 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-3 in the day of his 19th birthday.

The Miami Open champion is 0-2 in the Head2Head series against his countryman, having faced one another for the last time in March, playing a three-hour semifinal in Indian Wells.

The 91-time ATP titlist overcame Alcaraz in three sets advancing to the final. It was a fierce encounter in which Nadal played with chest pain, suffering breathing issues as he sustained a stress fracture to his left rib, keeping him away from the clay season for six weeks.

After his match against Norrie, Alcaraz stressed: “It has been a really tough match, a tough opponent. I knew that I had to play really good. I’m really happy with the performance today and very focussed on the next round.”

On Friday, he will be contesting his third career ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinal in Madrid.

Cecilia demartini
Sports Pundit staff writer @ceci_2812
Cecilia is a writer and journalist, passionate about motorsport and tennis.Her articles are published in newspapers and international online publications.

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