Rafael Nadal dominates David Goffin (6-3, 5-7, 7-6) and qualifies for the quarters, possible shock against Carlos Alcaraz

And in the end, Rafael Nadal wins. The refrain of this start to the 2022 season – except for the Indian Wells final – resumes with a vengeance this week in Madrid, even though the trap seemed to close on the Mallorcan this Thursday in the round of 16. True to himself, he fought to the end to dismiss David Goffin in extremis (6-2, 5-7, 7-6) in 3:09, after saving four match points in the final tie-break . Qualified for the quarterfinals, he will challenge the winner of the duel between his young compatriot Carlos Alcaraz and Briton Cameron Norrie.

He said he needed to spend some time on the court following his winning start on Wednesday. The least we can say is that Rafael Nadal was served. While he could have won in straight sets, the Mallorcan lost control of the game when he was unbroken while serving for the match at 6-3, 5-4. Embarked in a third set of all dangers and often threatened tennistically by a found David Goffin, he was on the ropes. But as so often, his mental toughness and a hint of success saved him.

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Goffin missed the mark on his 2nd match point

Everything was therefore finally played in a tie-break as exciting as it is unbreathable. Successively with their backs to the wall, both men played their best tennis under pressure. Led 4-1 double mini-break against him, Goffin suddenly didn’t miss anything, chaining quality returns and showing an ability to dictate the exchange with a stunning forehand. All in precision, he scored five consecutive points to get two match points at six points to four. At 6-5, after dominating the exchange, Goffin got the attacking forehand he wanted but got slightly tense and saw the net thwart his intentions.

Rafael Nadal in Madrid in 2022

Credit: Getty Images

Undoubtedly, this second opportunity will be the Belgian’s major regret. Because on his 3rd and 4th match points, Nadal played the shot perfectly, repelling it with his curved strikes before distilling each time a cushioning both masked and cheeky. Goffin, too, showed amazing composure in this tie-break, going to save his skin twice forward thanks to forehands and millimeter smashes. But he ended up cracking on the 20th point with a slight error in a forehand shift, leaving his Mallorcan rival and the Madrid public exulting.

If Nadal no longer seemed to control much at the end of the game, he was therefore able to cling to his legendary rage to win. And this tense outcome cannot make us forget a controlled first part of the match. The world number 4 even impressed in sequence, especially at the start of the second set when he broke by scoring 10 points in a row, helped by a rediscovered and lightning backhand compared to his entry into the running (6-3, 3- 1). His inconstancy at the moment makes him more vulnerable but the “Bull of Manacor” remains very difficult to complete. And he is gradually finding his bearings.

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