Rafael Nadal lost to Carlos Alcaraz in the Madrid quarterfinals.
The five-time champion started slowly at the Caja Magica as Alcaraz won the first set 6-2. However, the 35-year-old roared back into the contest, winning six of seven games to force a decider. Alcaraz, though, showed character to regroup, closing out a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 win to advance to the semifinals where he faces Novak Djokovic.
Nadal returned to action in Madrid after a six-week injury layoff. He sustained a rib fracture in his Indian Wells semifinal win over Alcaraz.
Nadal opined that the altitude in the Spanish capital means conditions at the Caja Magica are far removed from what he would encounter at Roland Garros. He said:
“You cannot analyse so much. We are in a special tournament here. We have the altitude, the tournament that is most far away from Roland Garros in the clay season, and I knew I didn’t want to start playing in this tournament because it is the most complicated. This is the reality.”
The left-hander added that he would prefer to return to action in Estoril or at a sea-level tournament. He said:
“From there onward, it’s true, some days the injuries don’t allow you to do the things most correct for tennistic evolution of your game. But you have to prioritise the physical evolution. For me it would have been much better to start the week before in Estoril, at sea level, a 250 tournament, but I didn’t manage to make it. I could not make it to Estoril.”
“This is the toughest tournament because here the ball flies much more” – Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal is out of the Mutua Madrid Open.
Rafael Nadal is a five-time champion in the Spanish capital, with four of his titles coming on clay (Madrid was held on hardcourts until 2008). Nevertheless, the Spaniard is often not at his best in Madrid, where the thinner air makes the ball move faster through the air, making for difficult playing conditions.
Terming the Madrid Masters as the ‘toughest’ tournament, Nadal elaborated on the challenge of playing at the Caja Magica, saying:
“I was not ready. I could not risk it. This is the reality. So I came here knowing that this is the toughest tournament, because here the ball flies much more. When they return the ball, you have to be much faster with your legs than in other places.”
Rafael Nadal added that if one’s positioning is off, unforced errors start adding up and confidence levels see a dip.
“If you don’t position yourself properly behind the ball, the unforced error comes easily and it’s easier to lose the confidence here than in a court at sea level.”
Sounding pleased with his run in the Spanish capital, where he logged over seven hours of game time in three matches, Nadal said:
“I have done what I could. I have had better days, worse days. But it has not been a disaster in any case. I think that I have competed with the correct attitude. I have played two, two-and-a-half hours, nearly three, I think three matches, this is a positive outcome.”
The Spaniard is expected to fare better at his next stop at the Rome Masters, where he’s a ten-time champion.