Rafael Nadal seeks the fifth Caja Magica crown this week, entering his home Madrid Masters for the record-breaking 19th time. Rafa is back in action after skipping six weeks due to a rib injury, losing the Indian Wells final and withdrawing from his favorite events in Monte Carlo and Barcelona.
Daniela Hantuchova knows how serious rib injuries could be, and she believes it's a miracle for Rafa to even play in Madrid. Not knowing how his body would react, Nadal has scored two victories to advance into the 16th quarter-final in the Spanish capital.
In the second round, the home favorite defeated an in-form Serb Miomir Kecmanovic 6-1, 7-6. In the opening set, Rafa played on a high level for the strongest possible return. His backhand started to crack a bit in set number two, but he still served for the victory at 6-5.
Kecmanovic pulled the break back to introduce a tie break, only to lose it 7-4 and propel Rafa into the third round. The home favorite had a 6-3, 5-3 lead against David Goffin before the Belgian bounced back to make it an epic encounter that lasted three hours and ten minutes!
In the second set's closing stages, David saved two match points in back-to-back games and rattled off four straight games to steal the set and force a decider.
Rafael Nadal is back in action after missing six weeks due to an injury.
The Belgian survived an early scare in the final set's opening game and followed Nadal's pace in the remaining ones to reach a tie break.
It turned into a roller coaster, and Rafa saved four match points to stay alive. Goffin squandered his chances, and Nadal closed the breaker 11-9 for one of his most thrilling wins at Caja Magica. Rafa will face Carlos Alcaraz in a blockbuster quarter-final clash.
"What Rafael Nadal is doing in Madrid is unbelievable. I broke my rib three times, and when I heard about Nadal's return in Madrid, I could not believe it, as I know how much it takes to heal. Seeing him at Caja Magica is a miracle.
Rafa did not expect himself to play in Madrid, which gave him the freedom to play without thinking about the results. Rafa did not know whether to trust his body, but he played great in the opening set against Kecmanovic. Rafa beat Miomir in straight sets without knowing how his rib would feel. He should play better as the tournament progresses," Daniel Hantuchova said.