Rafael Nadal had to miss this year's Madrid Masters due to an injury. The Spaniard failed to conquer his fifth Caja Magica crown a year ago after losing to Carlos Alcaraz. Rafa reached his 16th Madrid Masters quarter-final after a thrilling 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 victory over David Goffin in three hours and ten minutes.
Nadal should have finished the job much earlier and without the drama, as he served for the victory in set number two. The Spaniard led 5-3 before the Belgian bounced back and claimed four straight games after fending off two match points in different games!
It was Nadal's turn to face match points in the deciding tie break, saving four and prevailing 11-9 to set the Carlos Alcaraz clash. Rafa netted a forehand in the encounter's fifth game to find himself 3-2 down. He pulled the break back in the next one after David's two double faults.
Nadal grabbed another break in game eight to open a 5-3 gap and fired a forehand winner on his serve a few minutes later to wrap up the opener. Rafa broke David at love in the second set's third game, and both players served well after that.
Goffin served to stay in the match at 3-5 and fended off a match point to remain in contention. Nadal squandered the second match point on his serve at 5-4 and got broken in the worst moment. David hammered a forehand winner in game 12 to seize the second set point, stealing the set 7-5 and introducing a decider.
Rafael Nadal prevailed over David Goffin in Caja Magica a year ago.
The Belgian saved two break points in the third set's opening game and gained an additional boost to fight against a great rival. Nadal started all over and served well to keep the pressure on the other side.
Rafa held at love in game eight to lock the result at 4-4 and increase the drama. Both players served well in the remaining games to introduce a deciding tie break. The Belgian sprayed a forehand error in the fourth point and played a loose drop shot in the next one to find himself 4-1 down.
David bounced back and painted a forehand winner for 4-4 and momentum. Goffin fired another forehand winner to open a 5-4 gap and hit a smash winner for five straight points on his tally and two match points! Rafa saved the first with a service winner and defended the second after David's loose forehand for 6-6 after three hours!
Goffin earned the third match point, and Nadal denied it with a drop shot winner. Rafa placed a forehand crosscourt winner for his third match point, and David erased it with a smash winner for 8-8. Another smash winner created the fourth match point for Goffin, and Nadal denied it with a crafty drop shot winner for 9-9.
The home favorite forced the rival's error for 10-9 and seized the fourth match point after David's forehand mistake to celebrate a massive victory. "It was an unforgettable night. For me today, it has been an inspiration in the way I have been fighting all my tennis career.
Honestly, it was a very tough match. I think I played at a very high level. But at the same time, I'm not completely happy because I had to finish the match in straight sets. Three hours and ten minutes on the court helps increase my physical performance.
A significant victory after saving match points. That's the confidence that gives me the chance to keep going. I need matches and a day like today to be fitter sooner," Rafael Nadal said.