Rafael Nadal will try to raise his level at the Rome Masters following the quarter-final loss in Madrid last week. The 21-time Major winner returned to action for the first time since Indian Wells, recovering from a rib injury and starting his clay-court swing at Caja Magica.
Like in the previous years, Rafa could not fight for the trophy in front of the home fans. He suffered a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 loss to the 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz in two hours and 28 minutes. Nadal did not want to speak about the injury after the match, praising his rival instead and saying that he has to improve his level in the upcoming weeks to stand a chance at Roland Garros.
Rafa did not expect much in Madrid in his comeback tournament, understanding that he has to work hard on his game in the upcoming weeks to prepare for the season’s second Major. Carlos proved too strong for his idol of him in Caja Magica, firing almost 40 winners and delivering four breaks from five opportunities.
Rafa grabbed three return games in the opening two sets, but it was not enough to carry him through after losing steam in the decider. Alcaraz kicked off the action with an early break, and Nadal seized the fourth break chance in the next one after the rival’s double fault for 1-1.
Rafa failed to bring the third game home, and he got broken for the second straight time. Carlos served well and secured another return game at 4-2 to increase the advantage and serve for the opener. A teenager held at love in game eight with a service winner for 6-2 in 47 minutes.
Rafael Nadal lost to Carlos Alcaraz in the Madrid Masters quarter-final.
Alcaraz saved three break points in the second set’s second game, and he injured his ankle in the next one to lose a boost. Nadal was the only player on the court in the rest of the set, serving well and earning breaks in games four and six to open a 5-1 gap.
Rafa held at love in game seven to wrap up the set and become the favorite ahead of the decider. Carlos had other plans, though, taking a toilet break and starting all over. A teenager earned three break points at 2-1 with a backhand crosscourt winner and seized the first to forge the advantage.
He held at 30 in game five to confirm the lead and delivered another comfortable hold for 5-2. Rafa prolonged the action in game eight before Carlos sealed the deal with an incredible forehand down the line winner in the next one to advance into the semi-final.
“I have to accept the defeat; I can not speak about my foot or injuries today. I have to improve my game, be more dynamic and read the game better. I have to analyze my performance and understand what I have to improve to have more chances in Rome and Paris.
I have to recover my dynamics and speed and hit the ball harder. Losing is never easy, but you have to use the determination and follow the higher goals,” Rafael Nadal said.