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

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

World no. 2 and the five-time Madrid champion Rafael Nadal advanced to the third round at home Masters 1000 event a year ago after a 6-3, 6-3 triumph over the young gun Felix Auger-Aliassime in an hour and 37 minutes. It was the 370th victory at this level for Nadal, 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 first title of the season.

Felix had great results on clay Challengers in 2018, playing well against Denis Shapovalov in the first round here to set Nadal clash where he stood no chance, 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, dropping 11 points behind the initial shot and never facing problems until the last service game when he played some loose strokes to extend the clash a little bit.

The home favorite had ten winners and 16 unforced errors, receiving 30 mistakes from the Canadian who couldn't control his groundstrokes, with Nadal having the upper hand in the shortest and more extended exchanges to seal the deal in straight sets.

Felix remained in touch in the opening six games, opening a 40-15 lead in game eight before spraying some terrible errors to suffer a break and push Rafa 5-3 in front, with the Spaniard clinching the opener with a service winner in the next game.

Auger-Aliassime suffered a break at the beginning of the second set when Rafa forced a forehand error, serving well in games three and five before experiencing another setback when Nadal landed a backhand winner at 4-2, earning another break and serving for the triumph in the next game.

Out of sudden, Felix pulled one break back after a double fault from Rafa, prolonging the action and fending off five match points on serve before Nadal converted the sixth to move over the top and set the clash against another youngster Frances Tiafoe.