The five-time Madrid Open winner Rafael Nadal is through to the quarter-final at Caja Magica, beating Alexei Popyrin 6-3, 6-3 in an hour and 19 minutes. It was Nadal's 54th Madrid Open victory and another comfortable one after beating Carlos Alcaraz on Wednesday, sailing into the last eight where he faces Daniel Evans or Alexander Zverev.
Popyrin stayed aggressive from start to finish, landing 20 winners and the same number of unforced errors, while Rafa stayed on 11-15 ratio. The Spaniard did more damage with his initial shot and controlled the pace in the shortest and mid-range rallies, fending off five out of six break points in the opener and stealing Popyrin's serve four times to move into the next round.
Nadal won three points more than Popyrin in the opener, fending off five out of six break chances in two challenging service games and stealing the rival's serve thrice for a positive result. Alexei produced impressive numbers behind the first serve, but the second let him down, hitting more winners and unforced errors than Rafa and finishing on the losing side despite following the Spaniard's pace in the shortest and more extended exchanges.
The Aussie created three break chances in the second game before Nadal repelled them to close the game with a service winner and avoid an early setback. Wasting his chances, Alexei lost the ground a bit and hit a double fault in game three to fall behind, with Rafa holding at 30 with another powerful serve that sent him 3-1 ahead.
Rafael Nadal beat Alexei Popyrin 6-3, 6-3 in Madrid third round.
The youngster sprayed a backhand mistake in the fifth game to experience another break before finding the rhythm on the return and reducing the deficit to 2-4 after Nadal's drop shot error.
Popyrin brought the seventh game home to remain in touch before Nadal grabbed another break at 5-3 to wrap up the opener in 42 minutes. The Spaniard fired a forehand down the line winner at the beginning of the second set for a hold at love and placed another in game two for a break at love and a perfect start of the set.
Nadal confirmed the lead with a service winner in game three and held at 15 with an ideal backhand crosscourt winner two games later for 4-1. Alexei served great after that initial break, producing fine holds in games four, six and eight to remain within one break deficit and hoping for a chance on the return.
Instead of that, Rafa closed the seventh game with a powerful forehand that forced the rival's error and moved over the top with a hold at 15 at 5-3, securing the quarter-final berth for the 11th time at Caja Magica.