APRIL 21 - MAY 4, 2025

Nadal’s heart keeps beating in Madrid

The Manolo Santana Stadium held its breath and Rafael Nadal rewarded it with a lungful of oxygen. The Spaniard progressed to the fourth round in the Caja Magica on Monday after a dramatic match, ensuring he will have another chance to keep his fans on the edges of their seats. On a packed centre court, the five-time champion managed to tick another task off his to-do list; as well as enjoying himself once again, which he has done in every match so far, he was able to fight back in a tie that was plagued with curve-balls.

The Spaniard found himself ensnared in a battle of wits with Argentina’s Pedro Cachin, whom he eventually sent packing 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-3 in a match that was very much of two halves. After waltzing his way through the first set, the Mallorcan was forced to endure a marathon that surpassed the three-hour mark. However, whenever his game abandoned him, feeding the confidence of his adversary on the other side of the net, the Spaniard refused to back down.

“I had good moments and moments that weren’t so good”, said the Spaniard during his on-court interview. “But I found a way to win. In the third set, although I made mistakes, I managed to be a bit more unpredictable. That’s probably what changed the match”.

These obstacles provided Nadal with a chance to test himself. In Barcelona, one week ago, he was unable to dig deep when faced with a tough set. In Madrid, however, he set about finding a solution however long it may take. The Spaniard left everything on court in order to avoid defeat, competing in a second set in which he came back from two breaks down and saved two set points before the match was eventually levelled.

Regardless of the score, Madrid was gifted another chance to witness the legendary spirit of its hero. The difficulty of the second set proved something of a dilemma for Nadal; should he rest on his laurels or fight for the match as if his life depended on it? By opting for the latter and eventually claiming the deciding set, the Mallorcan took one step closer to his ultimate goal; to be able to go out on court feeling like he can dig in and be competitive.

Now into round four, with a place amongst the strongest players at the event, the Spaniard earned himself more than just a solid result on Monday. Nadal is now guaranteed to have played at least four matches in the Caja Magica, almost as many as he has had in the last two years. A feeling of continuity, something he has been lacking for some time, has started to materialise on the clay. If the Spanish capital is an examination of his ability to push hard, the Mallorcan now has plenty of reasons to feel positive.

Nadal’s gaze will immediately shift to his next challenge. With barely a day to recover, in the last sixteen at the Caja Magica on Tuesday the Spaniard will meet Czech player Jiri Lehecka, a man whose cast-iron groundstrokes he has yet to be on the receiving end of. The world No. 31, whose forehand is among the most venomous in the locker room, promises to test the Balearic Islander’s mobility.

“We’ll see how I feel when I get up tomorrow. I have to take it day by day, enjoying the fact that I’m competing at home. This means everything to me. I have to give everything so I can keep dreaming. Tomorrow is another day to keep enjoying this amazing crowd. That’s everything to me”.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion now has a new question to answer. Can he compete two days in a row and emerge with his fitness intact?