Five-time Madrid Open winner Rafael Nadal progresses to the quarterfinals at the Caja Mágica, beating Alexei Popyrin 6-3, 6-3 in one hour and 19 minutes. It was Nadal’s 54th victory at the Madrid Open and another comfortable one after beating Carlos Alcaraz on Wednesday, sailing into the round of 16 where he faces Daniel Evans or Alexander Zverev. Popyrin remained aggressive from start to finish, scoring 20 winners and the same number of unforced errors, while Rafa stayed at an 11-15 ratio. The Spaniard did more damage with his serve and controlled the pace in the shorter and medium rallies, fending off five of six break points in the opening game and stealing Popyrin’s serve four times to advance to the next round. Nadal won three more points than Popyrin in the first set, fending off five of six break opportunities in two challenging service games and stealing the opponent’s serve three times for a positive result. Alexei produced impressive numbers behind the first serve, but the second disappointed him, hitting more winners and unforced errors than Rafa and finishing on the losing side despite keeping pace with the Spaniard in shorter and longer exchanges. During the course of a podcast, Andre Agassi answered questions about both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and what made the legendary duo so special.
Andre Agassi praises Rafael Nadal
“I mean then Rafael Nadal comes along and he brings such enormous spin to the game that it actually changes the rules of engagement,” Andre Agassi said. “So you have two things with Rafa that are clearly stand out to me – that he hits the ball and it’s not in till it bounces right? So that changes positions in the court where you can play that offsets a lot of those other qualities I mentioned about Federer.” Agassi went on to talk up Rafael Nadal’s physical abilities, which he believes are “unmatched” by any of his contemporaries. “Plus his power of movement, his strength and endurance, and his physicality are kind of unmatched right?” the American continued. Daniil Medvedev has just begun his clay-court campaign at the Mutua Madrid Open 2021. He missed out on playing at the Monte-Carlo Masters event after testing COVID-19 positive. While the Russian does not particularly look forward to playing the clay season, he undoubtedly wanted to improve his results. Since he finally won a match, one of the press members asked whether he now enjoys clay surface more and more. In response, the Australian Open 2021 finalist expressed that even winning the biggest clay tournament might not change his heart. But he implied that Rafael Nadal’s retirement would make the situation better.