Stunning Real Madrid detail in Rafa Nadal's comeback win

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Pictured left is Rafa Nadal and Real Madrid's Karim Benzema on the right.
Rafa Nadal won his comeback match before going to the Santiago Bernabeu to watch Real Madrid's astonishing Champions League victory. Pic: Getty

Madrid Open organisers have revealed the brilliant reason behind Rafael Nadal's early match schedule after his impressive comeback victory in the Spanish capital.

Nadal made a fine start in his return from injury, defeating Miomir Kecmanovic in straight sets to reach the third round at the Madrid Open.

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Nadal showed few signs of rustiness after being out of action for 45 days in his 6-1 7-6 (7-4) opening win on home clay.

He cruised through the first set and recovered in the second after twice losing his serve following a rain interruption.

The victory lasted nearly two hours, but it was quick enough to allow Nadal to watch Real Madrid's extraordinary Champions League victory later on Wednesday night in the Spanish capital.

Tournament organisers said Nadal had asked to play in the afternoon so his match wouldn't coincide with Madrid's semi-final second leg match against Manchester City.

Nadal is a Madrid fan and on Saturday gave the ceremonial kick-off at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium before the team clinched the Spanish league title with a win against Espanyol.

The 21-time grand slam winner would have been ecstatic after Madrid proved once again they're this season's comeback kings in Europe after clinching an extraordinary 6-5 aggregate victory, to set up a Champions League final against Liverpool.

Substitute Rodrygo scored twice in the closing minutes of the match at the Bernabeu Stadium to send the tie into extra, before Karim Benzema settled a tie that will live long in the memory with an extra-time penalty.

In a curious twist, it means Real Madrid will take on Liverpool in Paris for a chance to win their 14th European title in the same week Nadal vies for his 14th French Open title.

The fourth-ranked Nadal had been out after a rib stress fracture halted his great start to the season, highlighted by winning his record 21st grand slam at the Australian Open.

"Coming from injury, I always need to play many matches to regain my best form," Nadal said. "Winning is very important to give me confidence."

Rafa Nadal makes solid return after injury lay-off

Nadal got injured in the semi-finals in Indian Wells in March, going on to lose the final to Taylor Fritz for his first defeat of the season and then missing tournaments in Miami, Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

The third seed has been downplaying expectations of winning his sixth Madrid Open title, and first since 2017 but he looked sharp in the first set, breaking serve twice against the 32nd-ranked Kecmanovic.

He struggled more after the match was interrupted for about half an hour with Kecmanovic leading 1-0 in the second set as the centre-court roof had to be closed.

Nadal was broken twice, including while serving for the match at 6-5, but eventually prevailed in the tiebreaker by converting his first match point with an ace.

Seen here, Rafael Nadal celebrating his Madrid Open win against Miomir Kecmanovic.
Rafael Nadal celebrates victory after the second round match against Miomir Kecmanovic at the Madrid Open. Pic: Getty

He could face a quarter-final against Spanish teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz, and a semi-final against either top-ranked Novak Djokovic or former No.1 Andy Murray.

Defending champion Alexander Zverev earlier rallied past Marin Cilic 4-6 6-4 6-4 to set up a third-round encounter with American Sebastian Korda.

Qualifier Dusan Lajovic upset fifth-seeded Casper Ruud 7-6 (9-7) 2-6 6-4 while ninth-seeded Cameron Norrie defeated American John Isner 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-4.

with agencies

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