ATP ANALYSIS: Rafael Nadal fires 32 winners to oust Karen Khachanov in MC


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ATP ANALYSIS: Rafael Nadal fires 32 winners to oust Karen Khachanov in MC

Defending champion Rafael Nadal has made his 14th Masters 1000 quarter-final from 15 appearances after a 6-3 6-2 win over Karen Khachanov in an hour and 19 minutes. This was their third meeting and Nadal is yet to lose a set against the Russian, scoring a dominant triumph to march into the last eight.

Rafa did just about everything right to control the pace in the rallies and despite some loose forehands it was another solid performance from world number 1, both on serve and return. He had one poor service game but overall his serve wasn't in danger, losing 12 points in nine service games for eight easy holds and the pressure that stayed on Karen's side of the net.

The youngster was unable to impose his shots and penetrate Nadal from the baseline, serving at only 43% and hitting just seven service winners, which wasn't enough to keep him safe in his service games. Nadal won 50% of the return points and that gave him seven break chances, converting two in each set to control the scoreboard all the time.

The Spaniard managed to cement his backhand, forcing Khachanov to play risky shots in order to find some open space and that didn't end up well for the youngster. In addition, Rafa tamed his shots in a much more efficient way to reduce the number of errors and overpower his opponent with deep and accurate shots that gave him the upper hand in the exchanges and the opportunity to close the points with his mighty forehand.

Nadal was 10-7 in front in terms of service winners, never a good sign for his rivals on clay, and he ousted Karen by 22-9 in terms of the winners from the court, firing 11 from his forehand. They had a similar number of unforced errors (15-14 for Karen) but the Russian made more forced errors, seven to four.

That was another element where he had to push Nadal to the limits in order to stand a chance in this encounter but he failed to mix up his game and force the Spaniard to hit from more awkward positions that would draw more mistakes from Rafa.

Overall, the Spaniard had 32 winners and 19 errors while Karen placed just 16 winners with 24 errors, far from enough if he wanted to challenge Rafa on a more serious level. Khachanov stayed in touch in the shortest points up to four strokes, trailing 26-22, but he couldn't keep the pace with Nadal in the longer rallies, losing 30 out of 43 points that have reached the fifth shot.

Rafa broke his resistance in the mid-range points (15-6), constructing the points nicely and holding them on his racquet in the bigger part of the match. Point by point result and the number of shots in the rallies:

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