Madrid: Rafael Nadal believes he is finding his rhythm again after beginning his bid for a sixth Madrid Open title on Thursday by beating Canadian teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets.
The victory also came hours before Nadal’s fellow Spaniard David Ferrer played the final match of his career, losing 4-6, 1-6 to Alexander Zverev in his last tournament before retirement.
Nadal has endured a turbulent few weeks after slipping to surprise defeats in both Monte Carlo and Barcelona last month before then being hit by a stomach bug on Sunday. But there was never much sign of an upset in the Spanish capital, where the world number two opened up with a 6-3, 6-3 victory.
“Right now every victory is important for me because it gives me the option to play again the next day,” Nadal said after the match.
“Two weeks ago maybe playing again was not a chance to improve because I didn’t feel like that in training. Now I am feeling better in matches and I think every one gives me the chance to get better,” he added.
Nadal has not arrived in Madrid without winning in either Monte Carlo or Barcelona since 2015 and, after also pulling out of Indian Wells due to a knee injury in March, concern was growing ahead of the French Open later this month.