After spending more than three hours on the court and earning a hard-fought victory, Rafael Nadal was feeling optimistic again. 

The Spaniard’s body withstood its toughest test yet at the Madrid Open as he needed three sets to get past 91st-ranked Pedro Cachin on Monday.

Nadal didn’t show any signs of physical limitations as he won 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-3 to make it to the round of 16 at the clay-court tournament where he is the record five-time champion. 

“It’s positive, now I don’t feel that something went wrong on my body, but I need to wait until tomorrow, being 100 per cent honest,” he said. 

“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.” 

Nadal will next face 31st-ranked Jiri Lehecka. He said he needs “to find a way to be able to play days in a row and still be competitive”.

“I don’t know if I am in that moment yet,” the 22-time grand slam champion said.

“Let’s see what can happen tomorrow. But I gonna try. I gonna do the things the right way to try to be ready for tomorrow.”

The 37-year-old Nadal is trying to get in shape for next month’s French Open. Since his latest injury layoff, he’s had two matches in Barcelona and was pessimistic about his physical condition after arriving in Madrid. But he’s won three more times in the Spanish capital.

Nadal again looked comfortable early on against Cachin. The Argentine fought back in the second set but was broken twice while serving for the set. Cachin eventually prevailed in the tiebreaker.

Nadal did not look as loose in the final set, but did look tired. He wasn’t as consistent with his shots but picked up three breaks to seal the victory to the delight of the local crowd in the Caja Magica.

“I took more risks in the third set, but it’s hard after so many months without competing,” Nadal said.

“I hadn’t played a match like this in a long time. Let’s see how it goes tomorrow. I don’t know how I’m going to wake up. But I’m already happy for having won three matches in a row.”

Top-seeded Jannik Sinner was not at his best but had enough to defeat Pavel Kotov 6-2, 7-5. Sinner, who has been dealing with a hip issue, will face 16th-seeded Karen Khachanov.

“I have been struggling a little bit with my right hip,” Sinner said. “We’re trying to find a solution and I don’t think it’s anything serious. Sometimes I feel it more like today and some days are a little bit better.”

Daniil Medvedev came from behind to defeat Sebastian Korda 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-3. The third-seeded Russian was two points from defeat.

Fifth-seeded Casper Ruud beat Cameron Norrie 6-2, 6-4.

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AP

Posted 2h ago2 hours agoMon 29 Apr 2024 at 10:36pm, updated 2h ago2 hours agoMon 29 Apr 2024 at 10:45pm

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