May 6, 2021
, The Canadian Press
MADRID – Rafael Nadal came through another young opponent and showed signs of getting closer to his best form on clay as he defeated Alexei Popyrin 6-3, 6-3 to make it on To make it into the quarter-finals of the Madrid Open on Thursday.
Nadal overcame eight aces and saved five breakpoints against the Australian. The five-time Madrid champions drove past Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz in the second round on Wednesday.
“There are many young, good players. Something normal happens, ”said Nadal, who at 34 is 13 years older than Popyrin. « And yes, I’m happy that at my age I can continue to play against everyone. You are good. You are talented. You have a great future. It is amazing for me to be where I am and at my age still competing with them. «
Nadal fought at times against the aggressive style of the 76th Popyrin, but was able to stay in control for most of the game on Magic Box Center Court.
» I knew he was with confidence, he has this energy that the young players have, « said Nadal. » After all I could do, it was a good game and I’m happy to make it back to the quarter-finals here. « »
Nadal will next face the fifth Alexander Zverev, who defeated Daniel Evans 6: 3, 7: 6 (3). The sixth-placed German won his last two games against Nadal, although none were on clay. </ The third placed Daniil Medvedev lost against Cristian Garin 6: 4, 6: 7 (2), 6: 1. The Chileans e broke up twice in the third set to reach his second Masters 1000 quarter-finals. He meets eighth Matteo Berrettini, who defeated Federico Delbonis 7: 6 (4) and 6: 4.
Previously, the US Open champion Dominic Thiem reached the last eight by beating Alex de Minaur 7: 6 (7) and 6: 4 defeated. The third-placed player is playing in his first tournament in a few weeks break after a slow start to his year.
“There have been some good, long rallies. I was out of breath many, many times, « said Thiem. “It was perfect for me to get back into the rhythm of the match a bit and run down a lot of balls. Since this is my first tournament, as it is my way back, building up for the next week, it was great for me. «
Thiem’s opponent in the quarter-finals will be American John Isner, who used 29 aces – including two in a row to win the decisive tiebreaker – to sixth Andrey Rublev with 7-6 (4), 3-6 , 7-6 (4).
« To be honest, Andrey was the best player, » said Isner. « My serve kept me in the game. It has been like that throughout my career. »
The fourth Stefanos Tsitsipas, who lost to Nadal in the final in Barcelona, fell 7: 6 (4), 6: 4 against the Norwegian Casper Rudd, who plays consecutive semi-finals in Munich and Monte Carlo.
“Me doing well, especially here in Europe on the sand. It was part of last year’s season that I was really looking forward to and unfortunately it was taken away from all the players, « said the 22nd Ruud. » This was one of the tournaments we didn’t get to play last year so I’m just trying to enjoy the moment and watch out for the chances I get. «
Ruud’s next opponent will be Alexander Bublik, who beat Aslan Karatsev 6-4, 6-3 and reached his second Masters 1000 quarter-finals of the season.
In the women’s final, Ash Barty faces the fifth seeded Aryna Sabalenka, who defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6: 2, 6: 3.
Barty reached the final with a 6: 4: 6: 3 win over Paula Badosa, the first Spanish woman to reach the semi-finals in Madrid .
« I know it was a big tournament for her, she played an exceptional level of tennis, » said Barty. « She served particularly well and was able to control the court with her forehand. I think it was one today Challenge. I tried to neutralize that as best I could. «
Badosa was the only opponent to beat Barty since February. Barty has won 16 games in a row on clay and is in their fourth final this year play after winning the last three.
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