99 on the board – Rafael Nadal survives thriller, closes on crazy Masters century
By defeating David Goffin in the third round of the Madrid Open Rafael Nadal will now compete in his 99th career Masters 1000 quarter-final.
The Spaniard extended his record tally of appearance in the last eight of Masters events by downing the Belgian former world number seven 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (11-9) to reach his 16th career Madrid Open quarter-final.
While the 35-year-old looked to have eased through up 6-3, 5-3, but he passed up two match points before Goffin won four games in a row to level the match 7-5 in the second.
But five-time Madrid champion Nadal survived that scare to clinch the match 11-9 in a tiebreak after he and Goffin had four match points each and more than an hour and a half after his last match point.
Nadal’s new record of 99 masters quarter-finals is 11 ahead of second-placed Novak Djokovic, who pulled ahead of Roger Federer’s tally of 87 after Andy Murray handed the world number one a walkover by withdrawing due to illness.
The Spaniard is in search of a sixth title in the Spanish capital.
Not only that, but Nadal would also once again tie Djokovic for the most Masters 1000 titles at 37 after the Serb won last year’s Paris Masters.
Next up, Nadal awaits either Cameron Norrie or young compatriot Carlos Alcaraz.
Alcaraz faces the Brit on his 19th birthday, a year on from taking on his idol Nadal as he turned 18.
Back on the subject of stats, should Nadal play in Rome next week he could land that elusive 100th Masters quarter-final by reaching the last eight there, something he last failed to do all the way back in 2008.
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