ATP Tour

Rafael Nadal cruises into Madrid Open last 16

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Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal
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Rafael Nadal began his bid for a sixth Madrid Open title in simple fashion on Wednesday, easing past youngster Carlos Alcaraz 6-1, 6-2 to reach the last 16.

Nadal, who returned to number two in the world last week after his thrilling win over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Barcelona final, strolled past his 18-year-old opponent in the Spanish capital.

Ranked 120 in the world, Alcaraz walked out to fans singing 'happy birthday' - and later received a cake - as he celebrated his birthday playing against his childhood idol.

Alcaraz battled bravely and even broke his compatriot Nadal's serve in the second set but was predictably overwhelmed by one of the game's greats.

"The victory in Barcelona helped me a lot. Things have got better since," said Nadal, reserving special praise for his vanquished opponent.

"He has a lot of potential. He's young and a good guy. He already has a great level of tennis today, but I really believe that he's going to be a fantastic player in the near future."

"I wish him all the very best," added Nadal. "(As a) Spanish player and Spanish (tennis) fan, I really believe that we need somebody like him, and it's great to have him here."

Nadal will take on Alexei Popyrin in the next round after the Australian knocked out rising star Jannik Sinner 7-6 (7/5), 6-2.

Tsitsipas, the 2019 runner-up, demolished Benoit Paire 6-1, 6-2 in less than an hour, with the Frenchman hampered by an abdominal injury.

The Greek fourth seed picked up his joint ATP-leading 27th win of the season and will meet Norway's Casper Ruud for a quarter-final berth.

Earlier second seed Daniil Medvedev, returning to the circuit after testing positive for Covid-19 in mid-April, picked up his first win on clay for two years when he came back from a set down to beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

The Russian has always struggled on clay.

In four attempts, he has failed to get past the first round of the French Open. Nor has he won a match in Rome while this was his first win in Madrid in his third appearance.

"I love clay," he said ironically into the camera at the end of the match.

In total, the 2021 Australian Open finalist has only 11 wins on the surface although he will have the chance to make that 12 when he takes on Cristian Garin in the last 16.

Fifth seed Alexander Zverev swept past Kei Nishikori in straight sets 6-3, 6-2.

World number nine Diego Schwartzman was dumped out by Aslan Karatsev 2-6, 6-4, 6-1. In-form Russian Karatsev will take on Alexander Bublik in the next round.

Results from the ATP/WTA Madrid Open on Wednesday (x denotes seeding):


2nd rd

Rafael Nadal (ESP x1) bt Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) 6-1, 6-2

Alexei Popyrin (AUS) bt Jannik Sinner (ITA x14) 7-6 (7/5), 6-2

Dan Evans (GBR) bt John Millman (AUS) 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-3

Alexander Zverev (GER x5) bt Kei Nishikori (JPN) 6-3, 6-2

John Isner (USA) bt Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP x9) 6-4, 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (8/6)

Aslan Karatsev (RUS) bt Diego Schwartzman (ARG x7) 2-6, 6-4, 6-1

Casper Ruud (NOR) bt Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) 6-1, 6-2

Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x4) bt Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-1, 6-2

Federico Delbonis (ARG) bt Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 7-6 (7/5), 6-3

Cristian Garin (CHI x16) bt Dominik Koepfer (GER) 6-3, 6-4

Daniil Medvedev (RUS x2) bt Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 4-6, 6-4, 6-2



Ashleigh Barty (AUS x1) bt Petra Kvitova (CZE x9) 6-1, 3-6, 6-3

Paula Badosa (ESP) bt Belinda Bencic (SUI x8) 6-4, 7-5

Aryna Sabalenka (BLR x5) bt Elise Mertens (BEL x13) 6-1, 4-0 - retired

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) bt Karolina Muchova (CZE) 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/2)

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