Rafael Nadal had to fend off four match points to progress to the antepenultimate round for the fourteenth time in sixteen appearances at the Mutua Madrid Open. On Thursday, he did so for the ninth time in a row (2013-2022), defeating David Goffin in a nail- biting encounter. The third seed needed three hours and eight minutes to see off the Belgian’s barrage in three sets (6-3, 5-7, 7-6).
The Spaniard’s consistency in the Caja Mágica has once again taken him deep in the event as he seeks to add yet another title to his record haul of five (2005, 2010, 2013-14 and 2017). In the twentieth anniversary edition of the #MMOPEN, Nadal is now among the final eight players bidding for the title and he now awaits the victor of the clash between Carlos Alcaraz and Briton Cameron Norrie.
Goffin, who came through qualifying, made things difficult for the Mallorcan at the beginning of the match in the Manolo Santana Stadium. The Liège-born player took the lead with a break in the fifth game that he failed to consolidate (2-3). The world No. 4 then strung together four games on the trot to claim the first set in 46 intense minutes.
Despite the fact that Nadal enjoyed two match points, in the ninth and tenth games, the No. 60 in the ranking somehow forced a decider after a second set that lasted over one hour. The home player was a break up and managed to keep it that way until he was serving for the match. With four games in a row, and a decisive break in the twelfth game, Goffin was right back in it.
Neither player let up in the third set, each holding their serve and upping their games as the tie approached 3 hours in duration. Then, the 21-time Grand Slam winner claimed a tiebreak, in which he was 4-6 down and had to fend off two further match points, to earn his 54 th win on the Madrid clay, compared to just ten defeats.
¡Una tarde IMPRESIONANTE!
— #MMOPEN (@MutuaMadridOpen) May 5, 2022
Nadal was unable to contain his elation at his win, but he was realistic after the match was over. Let’s not get carried away. “The end of the match was incredible but we shouldn’t have got to that point because we had it under control. But we know that things aren’t perfect at the moment, I’m returning from a break in competition and you have to accept what happens and keep fighting until the end. It’s all I can do with the help from all of you. Thank you so much to the fans”, he said.
The Manacor native spoke about the key to keeping his head in the game having watched his lead dwindle away. “I can’t consider myself so good that I don’t make mistakes. You have to work point by point knowing that sometimes things don’t end when you expect and so you can’t stop trying. We practise in order to overcome adverse situations”, he explained.
Although matches like these may be just what the doctor ordered after a period away from the game, Nadal is aware that it may take its toll in the quarter-finals. “I needed match minutes, maybe not that many, to go into tomorrow’s match with more solidity. But you have to be realistic and I know that it’s a difficult week. Whatever happens, having won two matches here is great news. I’m sure it will help me a lot and anything is possible tomorrow”, he concluded.