Nadal Opens Madrid Campaign – ATP World Tour

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Rafael Nadal began his quest for a fifth Mutua Madrid Open crown and 29th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title on Tuesday afternoon.

Fifth seed Nadal hit 22 winners and committed just nine unforced errors to knock out Andrey Kuznetsov 6-3, 6-3 in 79 minutes. He will next face Sam Querrey or qualifier Lucas Pouille in the third round.

Nadal is now 23-6 on the season, highlighted by back-to-back ATP World Tour titles in recent weeks at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (d. Monfils) and the Barcelona Open BancSabadell.

Nadal could have taken a 4-0 lead in the first set against Kuznetsov, but was unable to convert two break point opportunities. He broke in the seventh and the ninth games of the second set.

Earlier in the day, Juan Martin del Potro shed a tear when he defeated No. 14 seed Dominic Thiem 7-6(5), 6-3 in one hour and 44 minutes for a place in the second round against Jack Sock. Del Potro hit 10 aces and saved all seven break points he faced to overcome Thiem, a winner of two ATP World Tour titles this year.

“I have just played my best match since I came back to tennis after my surgeries,” said del Potro. “I’ve had a great test against a very high-level player.”

Sock edged out Frenchman Benoit Paire 2-6, 6-2, 7-6(5). Sock fought back from 0-2 in the deciding set to serve for it at 5-4, where he held a match point. Paire saved it before the American steadied in the tiebreak to close it out in one hour and 48 minutes.

Nadal Opens Madrid Campaign – ATP World Tour