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Rafael Nadal Reaches Madrid Open, Beats Alexei Popyrin

Madrid: Rafael Nadal continued his quest for a sixth Madrid Open title, beating Australian Alexei Popyrin 6-3, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals on Thursday. However, world No. 3 Danii Medvedev crashed out, losing to Cristian Garin 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-1.

“It was difficult. The court today was slippery, it was very fast, very dry conditions. The ball was flying a lot. The beginning of the match was super tough,” Nadal said during the on-court interview. “He was hitting every ball and hitting the spots. Very happy with the victory.”

This is the top seed’s 15th trip to the last eight in the Spanish capital. The last time he didn’t make it this far was 2012. Nadal will next play 2018 champion Alexander Zverev or tricky Briton Daniel Evans, who upset World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in Monte-Carlo.

The scoreline was straightforward, but there were difficult moments for the Spaniard. Nadal faced 0/40 in his first service game of the match at 0-1, but Popyrin made three consecutive errors to give away a golden opportunity to make a quick start and set the tone.

Popyrin did well with his first serve, winning 83 per cent of those points. But the World No. 76 did not land enough of his first deliveries (51%), allowing Nadal to work his way into points and turn rallies into a baseline grind. Although the aggressive qualifier battled hard to stay in contact with the home favourite, he was unable to find enough consistency to make it even closer.

In another game, Garin held on to beat Medvedev after a tough grind.

The Chilean Garin broke the Russian twice in the third set to reach the quarter-finals after 2 hours and 30 minutes. Garin won 75 per cent of his service points, hit six aces and faced just one break point.

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