Four-time Madrid champion Rafael Nadal was under fire early on, having to survive some incredible hitting from American Sam Querrey in the early stages of the opening set. But eventually the world number five got his foot into the match and controlled the rest of the match, winning seven straight games from 1-4 down in the opening set, eventually emerging victorious 6-4, 6-2 at the Mutua Madrid Open.
Nadal weathers Querrey storm, roars back to claim set
It was Querrey who came out of the blocks quicker, dominating his opening game with some huge hitting. The carried over into Nadal’s first game, as he raced ahead 0-30, winning the first six points of the match. He brought up a pair of break point in that game and while he missed the first, he ripped a huge forehand return winner for the immediate break lead. He then held to love again for the 3-0 lead.
Querrey was hitting a huge ball at every opportunity and was punishing Nadal for anything less than perfection. The Spaniard finally got a point on the Querrey serve at 3-1 courtesy of a double fault, which the American responded to by hitting three straight aces. He had a chance for a double break in the following game, but sent his return long on break point.
That’s when Nadal turned things around. Some great defence from the Spaniard drew errors from Querrey and he finally reached break point in the seventh game. While he missed the first, Nadal drew another error to break back for 3-4. Two games later, he again reached break point and once again, some monstrous defence drew an error from his opponent to break again. The four-time Madrid champion then served out the set in the following game, his fifth in a row from 1-4 down.
Solid defence sends Nadal into last eight
Querrey had thoroughly dominated Nadal through the early stages of the opening set, but his huge shots were no longer finding the court by the end and his struggles continued into the second set. Nadal raced ahead 0-40 in the opening game of the second set, and converted the third to grab an immediate break lead in the second set.
After Nadal held, Querrey final stopped his opponent’s seven game run with a strong hold to keep Nadal within reach at 1-2. In the following game, Nadal’s level dropped briefly and Querrey grabbed triple break point, and converted the third to put the set back on serve. But that would be the end of the American’s fight, as Nadal would break right back and reeled off four straight games, including another break for 5-2, to seal the impressive victory in an hour and nine minutes.
By the numbers
Nadal was able to hang on for the victory, despite nine aces and 24 winners from Querrey. He also benefitted from 25 unforced errors off the American’s racquet. Nadal had ten winners of his own along with 12 unforced errors. While Querrey’s first serve was strong for the first bit of the match, the Spaniard punished him for any missed first serves, limiting the American to 31 percent of his second serve points won. Nadal was slightly stronger in both service categories, winning 71 percent of his first serve points and 41 percent of his second serve points won.
Nadal will take on first-time Masters 1000 quarterfinalist Joao Sousa in the quarterfinals.