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Nadal gains De Minaur revenge in Madrid

In front of a capacity crowd that included the King of Spain, French football icon Zinedine Zidane, and Real Madrid winger Vinicius Junior, Nadal dug deep to dismiss the world number 11

NadalMADRID: Rafael Nadal avenged his defeat to Alex de Minaur from Barcelona with a 7-6 (8/6), 6-3 victory over the Australian on Saturday to extend his stay in Madrid on his final appearance at his home tournament but admitted he still “needs time” to return to his competitive peak.

Nadal’s farewell tour has pitted him against De Minaur twice in as many weeks but this time the result was reversed as the 22-time Grand Slam champion advanced to a third-round meeting with Argentina’s Pedro Cachin.

In front of a capacity crowd that included the King of Spain, French football icon Zinedine Zidane, and Real Madrid winger Vinicius Junior, Nadal dug deep to dismiss the world number 11, despite admitting ahead of the tournament he was still struggling with numerous physical issues.

It was an impressive performance from the 37-year-old but he immediately dismissed the idea it was anywhere near his vintage form.

“No, not yet. It needs time,” said Nadal on court.

“I think for moments had been a good level of tennis, I’ve been able to do some positive things, but on and off. To play over two hours means a lot to me and the atmosphere here is just a joke.

“I really believe that tennis hasn’t been an issue for the last two years, more the physical issues. If I’m able to play weeks in a row, then I can see how competitive I can be. That’s not the case yet. Just step by step and let’s see how I recover.”

Five-time Madrid champion Nadal inched ahead 2-0 early on but lost his advantage in controversial manner as chair umpire Fergus Murphy refused to let the Spaniard challenge a ball from De Minaur that was incorrectly deemed in.

Murphy said that Nadal hadn’t clearly indicated his intention to challenge while Nadal argued that he had completely stopped and circled the mark with his racquet, which he believed was enough to trigger a challenge.

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