Rafael Nadal serves revenge and beats Alex de Minaur in Madrid!

Rafael Nadal is through into the third round at the home Masters 1000 event

by Jovica Ilic
Rafael Nadal serves revenge and beats Alex de Minaur in Madrid!
© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Four-time Caja Magica champion Rafael Nadal reached the third round at his home Masters 1000 event! Competing at home for the 20th year, Rafa took down Alex de Minaur 7-6, 6-3 in two hours and one minute in the second round, advancing and celebrating back-to-back wins for the first time since the first week of the season!

De Minaur beat Nadal in Barcelona last week. The veteran raised his level in Madrid despite playing far below his best, clinching a tight opener and moving over the top with early and late breaks in set number two. Unlike in Barcelona, Rafa was ready to endure a lengthy battle, finding the right angles and playing competitive tennis despite barely getting anything from his initial shot.

The opening set lasted almost 80 minutes.

Rafael Nadal & Alex de Minaur, Madrid 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Nadal squandered an early advantage and came from a break behind in the middle of the set before taking it in the tie break after a lot of drama.

De Minaur claimed two points more, but not the crucial ones. The Aussie had a slim edge in the shortest and mid-range exchanges, and the Spaniard erased it in the more advanced ones. Rafa held at 15 in the first game of the encounter after Alex's backhand error and made a push on the return in the next one.

De Minaur sprayed a forehand error, losing serve and sending the home favorite 2-0 in front. Rafa could not stay in front for too long, struggling in the third game and allowing Alex to seize the third break chance after a forehand crosscourt winner.

They served well in the next three games, locking the result at 3-3.

Rafael Nadal, Madrid 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Rafael Nadal defeated Alex de Minaur in the second round in Madrid.

Rafa lost the ground in the seventh game, sending a volley long and getting broken at love after a forced error.

The veteran stayed focused and pulled the break back in the eighth game, locking the result and producing a fine hold in the next one for a 5-4 lead. The set went into a tie break, and Rafa drew Alex's mistake for a 5-2 advantage.

The Spaniard created four set points but wasted them, not trusting his backhand and failing to deliver the finishing strike. Rafa painted a backhand crosscourt winner at 6-6, earning the fourth set point and causing Alex's error for a set and a massive boost of confidence.

Riding on the waves of it, Nadal fired a forehand crosscourt winner at the beginning of the second set, creating a break chance.

Rafael Nadal, Madrid 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The Aussie placed a backhand wide, losing serve and sending the veteran in front.

Rafa held at 30 in the second game, forcing Alex's mistake and cementing a set and a break advantage. The home favorite produced a hold at love in game four, forging a 3-1 advantage and controlling the scoreboard. De Minaur reduced the deficit with a hold after deuce in game five and grabbed the opening two points on the return in the next one.

Nadal stayed composed and clinched four straight points, closing the game with a backhand crosscourt winner and opening a 4-2 gap. Alex held at 15 in the seventh game, reducing the deficit and remaining one break behind. Rafa played a flawless game and moved 5-3 up with a hold at love, forcing his rival to serve to stay in the match.

Nadal cracked a backhand crosscourt winner on the return in game nine, creating two match points. Alex hit a double fault on the second, sending the legend over the top and into the third round.

Rafael Nadal Alex De Minaur