Rafael Nadal and David Goffin will face each other in the Madrid Masters third round on Thursday. They have played six times so far, with Goffin scoring two wins on hard and Nadal having the upper hand on his beloved clay. Their most recent clash came at the 2020 ATP Cup, and David scored a notable 6-4, 7-6 victory over world no. 1 in two hours and 23 minutes. The Spaniards came to Sydney from Perth, and Nadal did not adjust to the conditions, struggling to find the rhythm and dropping the crucial points. Delivering a pale performance in the first part of the match, Nadal struggled to keep the pace and impose his shots, battling hard until the end but still falling short in straight sets to suffer only the third loss after Madrid in May 2019! Determined to keep his country in the contention for a place in the semis, Goffin played aggressive tennis and threw everything he had on Nadal.
Rafael Nadal leads 4-2 against David Goffin ahead of their seventh meeting.
The Belgian dictated the exchanges with deep balls and opened the court for over 30 winners, which kept the momentum on his side of the court. David managed to tame Rafa's first serve and gain the advantage. He smashed his forehands and limited the damage in his games to mount the pressure on Rafa. The Spaniard offered no less than 14 opportunities to the Belgian, unable to find free points with the initial shot despite much better performance in set number two. Goffin endured a tough service game at 3-4 in the opening set, broke Rafa in the next one and closed it with a hold in game ten for 6-4.
The lower-ranked player controlled the pace in set number two after an early break. He wasted a couple of break chances that could have sent him 5-2 up and allowed Rafa to pull the break back and level the score at 4-4. The Spaniard found his strokes in those moments, but the Belgian was not to be denied in the tie break. He grabbed two mini-breaks and sealed the deal with an ace at 6-3 to deliver one of his career-best victories. Nadal should be the favorite in Madrid today, competing for the first time in six weeks and looking eager to return at his best after struggling with a rib injury since Indian Wells.
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