Rafael Nadal has been the most decorated player at Caja Magica with four titles. Still, Nadal's results in front of the home fans have not been that well in the past couple of years, and he could not change that last week.
Rafa returned to action in Madrid after skipping six weeks due to a rib injury, and he suffered the quarter-final loss, like in 2021. The Spaniard admitted he preferred playing in Estoril instead of Madrid but could not recover in time to enter the ATP 250 event.
Nadal made a winning start in Madrid, beating Miomir Kecmanovic 6-1, 7-6. Rafa did everything right in the opener, and he served for the victory at 6-5 in the second. Kecmanovic bounced back to level the score at 6-6 and introduce a tie break.
Nadal stayed calm and grabbed it to advance into the third round. There, he faced David Goffin and built a 6-3, 5-3 lead. The Belgian refused to surrender and fended off two match points to reach a tie break and force a decider.
Nothing could separate them until the tie break, and the result went back and forth. Nadal fended off four match points to claim the breaker 11-9 and prevail after three hours and ten minutes! Nadal advanced into the 99th Masters 1000 quarter-final, but he could not pass that obstacle.
Rafael Nadal wanted to play Estoril, but could not recover in time.
Rafa suffered a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 loss to Carlos Alcaraz in two hours and 28 minutes. The youngster overpowered his idol with almost 40 winners, losing ground a bit in the second set after an injury but starting all over in the decider.
Carlos earned three break points at 2-1 with a backhand crosscourt winner and seized the first to forge the advantage. He held at 30 in game five to confirm the lead and delivered another comfortable hold for 5-2. Rafa prolonged the action in game eight before Carlos sealed the deal with an incredible forehand down the line winner in the next one.
"Madrid is a special tournament, with a high attitude. I did not want to start my clay swing here, as it has few similarities with Roland Garros. Still, I had to think about my physical progress. It would have been much better for me to kick off the clay swing in Estoril at sea level, but I could not recover in time as I was not ready.
I could not risk, and that's reality. I came to Madrid knowing it's the most challenging tournament; the balls fly much more here than in other events. We all knew it would not be easy to make a good result. I have done what I could, experiencing better and worse days.
It was not a disaster in any case. My attitude was right; I spent hours on the court in three matches, which was a positive outcome. You have to keep on working with the right mental attitude and look to the future with joy and happiness," Rafael Nadal said.