Today, at the Madrid Open. The men’s draw played all of the round of 16 matches. In what looked to be an incredible day of tennis, most were disappointments but one match far outshined the rest.
If there is ever a time when Rafael Nadal is playing, especially in Spain, there is going to be great amounts of excitement and hype surrounding whatever match is taking place. Add on Nadal coming off an injury and gearing up for Roland Garros, and all eyes are going to be on Nadal’s matches in Madrid.
David Goffin, Nadal’s opposition, is a former top-ten player who has slid down the rankings in recent years. Recently, however, Goffin has recaptured some of the magic that made him a top-ten player. A title in Marrakech, in April, has helped him recover some of his ranking points and confidence. Having to get through qualifying, Goffin secured some solid wins to make it to the Madrid R16.
For the first hour and a half, this looked like it was going to be a quick day for Rafael Nadal. The first set was 6-3 for Nadal in 48 minutes. Goffin’s serve was broken early in the 2nd set and it looked like it was just a matter of time until Nadal would be walking away with an easy victory. Nadal, serving for the match at 5-4, was broken after having a match point at 40-30. Goffin would go on to break Nadal’s serve again at 6-5 to take the 2nd set. 7-5.
The 3rd set was pretty straightforward with both players holding serve and only Goffin facing any break points. Both men would hold serve to get to 6-6 and ensure the 3rd set tiebreaker. This is where the fun would start.
Nadal would take an early lead, 4-1 over Goffin. At this point, it felt like a forgone conclusion that Nadal would run away with the tiebreaker and the match. Goffin had other ideas and roared back to take a 6-4 lead, securing himself multiple match points. Nadal fought to stay in the match, playing some grueling points but eventually forcing Goffin to miss. Both Nadal and Goffin would go on to have a couple of more match points, but it was Nadal who would secure the match, 11-9 in the final set tiebreak.
It was a vintage performance from Rafael Nadal, who would not let this match go and was going to quit until he won. He did eventually win and it was a great sign for his comeback from the foot injury. Now, let’s hope the foot is in good shape after a match of that stress.