Rafael Nadal - Roland Garros 2022

Rafael Nadal claims he is still ‘far from being able to aspire to amazing things’ despite victory

Rafael Nadal has enacted revenge over Alex de Minaur, beating the Australian to obtain his highest ranked win since the 2022 ATP Finals.

Nadal beat world No.11 De Minaur, 7-6(6) 6-3, in the second round of the Madrid Open, only a week after losing to the same player in Barcelona.

It was the Spaniard’s longest match of the clay court season so far, something that he appeared especially pleased about in the on-court interview after the match.

“I’m super happy to be competitive against a great player like Alex, playing two hours means a lot to me,” said Nadal. “The atmosphere here is a joke, so I can’t thank everybody enough.

“If I am able to play tennis for a few weeks in a row, then I will see how far I can go. It’s just a case of going step by step and seeing how things go.”

Despite the impressive victory, Nadal admitted in press that this has not changed anything in terms of his mindset for the week.

“I’m happy. Obviously, I was coming from a few days in which it was difficult to think that I would be in the third round,” explained the former No.1. “It doesn’t change much for me either, but I wasn’t going to endure a match of more than two hours, also at home and with these people, it has been amazing. To this day, it is still difficult to think about great things.”

Nadal continued, “My priority continues to be that nothing serious happens this week and to explore what can happen in the following weeks at all levels, both on a physical level, which is the key. Then, if it responds on a physical level, let’s see how tennis responds, which is not automatic either.

“I have played very little in recent times and with many things to improve. Since the week has not been very good, it is a week not of official matches, but of training, with people from the circuit. first level I have done very little.”

A lot of the concern surrounding Nadal’s comeback has been related to his serve, with abdominal issues making it difficult for the 37-year-old to do so.

However, Nadal has revealed that it has improved greatly in the Spanish capital, “This week the most significant improvement is the serve. I have no limitations. I can’t do the donkey because I haven’t served in any sense for many months, but I can’t train 100 serves every day. The muscles have to adapt again to the loads progressively, but today I was able to get it out and the other day too. At least I get one thing out of my mind.”

When asked about the excitement from fans following this breakthrough victory in his comeback, Nadal appeared to understand this while also keeping a realistic perspective on the future.

“You get excited, but the reality is that it’s one match, in two days we’ll start again and the ‘glass’ of energy and confidence is filling up, but today I’m far from being able to aspire to amazing things,” admitted Nadal. “I think it’s an important step forward, that with small steps you build big things, but unfortunately the reality is often different.”

The 22-time major winner added, “That doesn’t mean that I don’t get excited and that I have no hope for the future. If I didn’t have hope, I wouldn’t be here. If I’m here, it’s because I hope that things will get better and because it keeps getting excited and motivated by playing tennis.”

Nadal will take on ATP No.91 Pedro Cachin on Monday, as he looks to reach the fourth round of the Madrid Open for a 15th time.

Inside the baseline…

It was such an impressive performance from Rafael Nadal, who has beaten the sixth best player in 2024 Alex de Minaur in straight sets. What makes this victory even more impressive is that he lost to De Minaur quite convincingly in Barcelona last week, so it is a real sign of progression from the Spaniard and it is hard not to get excited. Hopefully Nadal’s body will hold up after playing two consecutive matches, and can produce a similar performance against Pedro Cachin in the third round.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.