ThrowbackTimes Madrid: Rafael Nadal tops young gun Felix Auger-Aliassime

World no. 2 and the five-time Madrid champion Rafael Nadal advanced to the third round at the home Masters 1000 event in Madrid 2019 after a 6-3, 6-3 triumph over the young gun Felix Auger-Aliassime in an hour and 37 minutes. It was Nadal’s 370th victory at the premium ATP level, a much-needed one after semi-final losses in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, heading to Madrid with extra pressure on his back and seeking the season’s first title. Felix achieved great results on clay Challengers in 2018 and played well against Denis Shapovalov in the first round in Madrid to set Nadal clash. The youngster stood no chance against the more experienced rival, getting broken four times from ten opportunities offered to Rafa and making almost no damage on the return. The Spaniard landed 71% of the first serve in and sailed through his service games to keep the pressure on the other side of the net.

Rafael Nadal made a winning start in Madrid 2019 over Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Rafa dropped 11 points behind the initial shot and never faced problems until the last service game when he played some loose strokes to extend the clash a bit and keep Felix alive. The home favorite fired ten winners and 16 unforced errors, welcoming 30 mistakes from the Canadian to control the scoreboard. Auger-Aliassime couldn’t handle his groundstrokes, as Nadal had the upper hand in the shortest and more extended exchanges and sealed the deal in straight sets. Felix remained in touch in the opening six games for a promising start, building a 40-15 lead in game eight before spraying some terrible errors to suffer a break and push Rafa 5-3 in front.

The Spaniard didn’t need the second invitation, clinching the opener with a service winner a few minutes later for 6-3. Auger-Aliassime suffered a break at the beginning of the second set when Rafa forced a forehand error. The youngster served well in games three and five before experiencing another setback when Nadal landed a backhand winner at 4-2 to earn another break and serve for the triumph in the next game. Out of a sudden, Felix pulled one break back after Rafa’s double fault, prolonging the action and fending off no less than five match points on serve before Nadal converted the sixth to move over the top and set the clash against another youngster Frances Tiafoe.

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