Rafael Nadal sees off Alex De Minaur to reach third round of Madrid Open

Rafael Nadal thrilled his home fans and showed he is not finished yet by defeating Alex De Minaur to reach the third round of the Madrid Open.

The 37-year-old lost to De Minaur at the same stage in Barcelona last week and gave a gloomy assessment of his physical condition ahead of this tournament, casting doubt on his participation at the French Open.

But Nadal turned the tables in this second-round encounter, powering to a 7-6 (6) 6-3 victory at the Caja Magica in front of the King of Spain and Real Madrid stars present and former in Vinicius Junior and Zinedine Zidane.

This was still nowhere near the Spaniard at his clay-court best, with the match littered with mistakes from both men, but it was undoubtedly a step in the right direction and there is no question about Nadal’s motivation.

After breaking the De Minaur serve in the second game, he was furious when the umpire ruled he had not challenged in time in the next game with a shot over the baseline from the Australian missed by the officials.

De Minaur broke back and briefly had the advantage at 4-3 but back came Nadal, and the home favourite finally took a fifth chance in the tie-break after being pegged back from 6-2.

He celebrated with a triple fist pump and began the second set on the front foot, producing some vintage winners and keeping De Minaur scrambling around the court.

Spain’s King Felipe VI watches Rafael Nadal
Spain’s King Felipe VI watches Rafael Nadal (Manu Fernandez/AP)

By the end of the match, Nadal was in total control and he clinched his first top-20 victory since 2022 when De Minaur double-faulted, sparking jubilant scenes in the Spanish capital.

Nadal was keen to stress afterwards that he still needs time, saying on Sky Sports: “For moments it’s been a good level of tennis, I was able to do positive things, but still on and off.

“I’m super happy to be able to be competitive against a great player like Alex, playing over two hours, it means a lot to me and the atmosphere here is just a joke.

“If I am able to play weeks in a row, then I’m going to see how far I can go and how competitive I could be. That’s not the case yet, step by step and let’s see how I recover.”

Jannik Sinner lost only three games
Jannik Sinner lost only three games (Manu Fernandez/AP)

Nadal will next face Argentina’s Pedro Cachin, who defeated Frances Tiafoe 7-6 (1) 3-6 6-4.

Top seed Jannik Sinner brushed aside fellow Italian Lorenzo Sonego 6-0 6-3 and third seed Daniil Medvedev came from a set down to see off Matteo Arnaldi.

There was a big surprise when Stefanos Tsitsipas, who was looking to make it three straight finals, lost 6-4 6-4 to Brazilian qualifier Thiago Monteiro.

Britain’s Cameron Norrie is through to the third round as he eased to a 6-1 6-4 win over 17-year-old Brazilian wild card Joao Fonseca while Casper Ruud secured a 6-4 6-1 result against Miomir Kecmanovic.

In the women’s event, world number one Iga Swiatek raced to a 6-1 6-1 victory over Sorana Cirstea, while Maria Sakkari saw off Sloane Stephens 6-1 6-3 and Ons Jabeur claimed a much-needed 7-5 2-6 6-4 win over Leylah Fernandez.

Coco Gauff had flown through her first-round match against Arantxa Rus 6-0 6-0, and a repeat looked possible when she raced into a 5-0 lead against Dayana Yastremska in the second round.

Yastremska then reeled off the next four games but world number three Gauff recovered her composure to book her place in the last 16 with a 6-4 6-1 victory.