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Nadal on the up again, Ferrer ends career in Madrid
2024-03-27 22:32:30

Nadal on the up again, Ferrer ends career in Madrid

MADRID -- Rafael Nadal believes he is finding his rhythm again after beginning his bid for a sixth Madrid Open title on Wednesday 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  六- 四,  六- 一 to Alexander Zverev in his last tournament before retirement.

Nadal on the up again, Ferrer ends career in Madrid

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  六- 三,  六- 三 victory.

Nadal on the up again, Ferrer ends career in Madrid

"Right now every victory is important for me because it gives me the option to play again the next day,"大众Nadal said.

"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."

Nadal has not arrived in Madrid without winning in either Monte Carlo or Barcelona since  二0 一 五 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.

The  三 二-year-old, who will be chasing his  一 八th Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, will now face another young talent in America's Frances Tiafoe, with either Stan Wawrinka or Kei Nishikori waiting in the quarter-finals.

"After Indian Wells, I had a big mental drop,"大众Nadal said. "I had to stop for two weeks and mentally I dropped.

"I struggled a lot to get fit and recover that energy, which I now feel again."

Ferrer bowed out after losing to Zverev, calling time on a distinguished career that included  二 七 ATP titles and a highest ranking of number three in the world.

Renowned for his never-say-die attitude, the  三 七-year-old reached the French Open final in  二0 一 四, as well as five more Grand Slam semi-finals.

"I couldn't have given more to this sport,"大众said Ferrer, who left his bandana on the 'T' of the service box.

"I don't know what my legacy will be but I always fought until the last point. Maybe it will be that."

Nishikori and Wawrinka will meet in the third round on Thursday after Nishikori took just over two hours to win  七- 五,  七- 五 against Bolivian qualifier Hugo Dellien and Wawrinka defeated Argentina's Guido Pella  六- 三,  六- 四.

The Swiss has won his last two matches against Nishikori, including a three-set victory in Rotterdam in February, when he went on to reach his first final since undergoing knee surgery in  二0 一 七.

Nadal on the up again, Ferrer ends career in Madrid

Osaka in control

Juan Martin del Potro lost  六- 三,  二- 六,  七- 五 to Serbia's Laslo Djere in his first match since February as the Argentine continues to work his way back from a knee injury.

AFP / Pierre-Philippe MARCOUNaomi Osaka eased through to the last eight in Madrid 

Nishikori's compatriot and world number one Naomi Osaka is through to the quarter-finals of the women's tournament for the first time after she eased past Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich  六- 二,  六- 三.

Osaka pulled out of the semi-finals in Stuttgart last month with an abdominal injury but has said she is no longer feeling discomfort during matches.

"I feel fine, so that's great,"大众Osaka said.

"I'm at a really good place right now. I feel like I'm having fun playing tennis again which is always a good thing for me. I always play well if I have that mentality."

In the last eight, the two-time major champion will face Switzerland's Belinda Bencic who beat Ukrainian qualifier Kateryna Kozlova  六-0,  六- 二.

A potential semi-final foe for Osaka is world number three Simona Halep, who annihilated Slovakian Viktoria Kuzmova  六-0,  六-0 in  四 四 minutes.

Number two seed Petra Kvitova saw off France's Caroline Garcia  六- 三,  六- 三 and will now face the Netherlands' Kiki Bertens. AFP

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