Rafael Nadal got through another young opponent and showed signs he was getting closer to his best form on clay as he defeated Alexei Popyrin 6-3, 6-3 to make it to the Madrid Open quarterfinals on Thursday.
Nadal overcame eight aces and saved five break points against the Australian. The five-time Madrid champion cruised past Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz in the second round on Wednesday.
Nadal struggled at times against the aggressive style of the 76th-ranked Popyrin but was able to stay in control for most of the match on the Magic Box center court.
"I knew he was coming with confidence, he has this energy that the young players have,” Nadal, 13 years older, said. “From what I could do, it was a good match, and I’m happy to make it to the quarterfinals again here.”
Third-ranked Daniil Medvedev lost to Cristian Garin 6-4, 6-7 (2), 6-1. The Chilean broke serve twice in the third set to reach his second Masters 1000 quarterfinal.
Earlier, U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem reached the last eight by defeating Alex de Minaur 7-6 (7), 6-4. The third-seeded Austrian is playing in his first tournament since taking a few weeks off after a slow start to his year.
“There were some good, long rallies. I was many, many times out of breath,” Thiem said. “It was perfect for me to get back a little bit the match rhythm, to run down a lot of balls. As it’s my first tournament, as it’s my way back, a buildup for the next week, it was great for me.”
The women’s top-ranked player, Ashleigh Barty, cruised into the final with a 6-4, 6-3 win over wild card Paula Badosa, the first Spanish woman to reach the semifinals in Madrid.
Badosa had been the only opponent to defeat Barty since February. Barty has won 16 straight matches on clay and will be playing in her fourth final this year, having won the previous three.
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