Second-seeded Spaniard Rafael Nadal overcame a weekend stomach bug to cruise in his opening match on Wednesday, dispatching Canadian wild card Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 6-3 at the Mutua Madrid Open in Spain.
Nadal, who battled a virus on Sunday, needed 98 minutes to complete the victory on a blustery day. He faced just one break point and won 76 percent of his service points, ultimately closing it out on his sixth match point.
“The important thing is to win, especially given what’s happened in the last three days,” Nadal said afterward. .”.. It’s a day to be very satisfied, very happy. I managed to win. I managed to win in two sets an opponent who was not easy, and the day was not the best. It was windy and cold.”
The 32-year-old and five-time champion of the event will next face American Frances Tiafoe, a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 winner over Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Defending champion and third seed Alexander Zverev of Germany also cruised through his opening match, capping the 19-year career of a home crowd favorite in the process. Zverev won 6-4, 6-1 over 37-year-old Spaniard David Ferrer, who had already announced that this tournament would be his last before retirement.
Ferrer received tremendous support from the crowd, but Zverev converted all five of his break point opportunities, including two in a row to clinch the first set after going down a break. He cruised through the second set and wrapped up victory in 71 minutes.
Fans gave Ferrer, a finalist at the French Open in 2013, a standing ovation after the match ended. He waved back in thanks before a ceremony in which he addressed the crowd and a video tribute was played.
“I gave everything in this sport,” Ferrer said. “I couldn’t give more. I won 27 titles, Davis Cup. I could never win Madrid. I’d have liked to have won more. The trophies are something material — what I really wanted was the love of the people.”
Zverev will next face Polish qualifier Hubert Hurkacz, who downed Frenchman Lucas Pouille 7-5, 6-1.
Among other top seeds, No. 6 Kei Nishikori of Japan handled Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien 7-5, 7-5, while No. 7 Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina fell 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 to Serbia’s Laslo Djere in his return from a knee injury that sidelined him 2 1/2 months.
Next up for Nishikori will be Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka, who beat Argentine Guido Pella 6-3, 6-4.
Three of the other four seeded players in action advanced, with No. 8 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece beating French lucky loser Adrian Mannarino 6-2, 7-5; No. 10 Fabio Fognini of Italy coasting by Australia’s John Millman 6-2, 6-2; and No. 15 Gael Monfils of France rallying past Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics 1-6, 6-4, 6-2. Monfils will face Switzerland’s Roger Federer, and Fognini will draw two-time finalist and fifth seed Dominic Thiem of Austria in the Round of 16.
Tsitsipas will next face Spain’s Fernando Verdasco, who upset No. 11 Karen Khachanov of Russia 6-7 (4), 6-1, 7-5 in a 2-hour, 28-minute battle.
Frenchman Jeremy Chardy’s 6-1, 6-2 victory over Argentine Diego Schwartzman earned him a Round of 16 matchup with top-seeded Serbian Novak Djokovic.
—Field Level Media