Nadal’s spring walk

At three o’clock in the afternoon, the soulless landscape that has enveloped the first women’s semifinal gives way to a thousand fans who occupy positions in the center of the Caja Mágica with a desire to mambo. They are few, but they are noticed. The sun shines in Madrid, it’s a spring day and a flock of starlings fly over the deck to take a look and check that things are going well, that nothing is off the script. They look at the birds from up there and find the green light. Everything in order, there is no shock. Rafael Nadal seals his access to the rooms of the Mutua Madrid Open without setbacks (double 6-3 to Alexei Popyrin, in 1h 19m) and his game continues to gain temperature in the face of the known goal of Paris.

In the box reserved for personalities, extenista David Ferrer, now director of Godó, amicably parted with Ronaldo Nazario, who before sitting down greets the owner of the tournament, the Romanian Ion Tiriac, and gives a friendly slap to his friend Luis Figo. Next, Nadal accesses the track with a sharp look and the shouting begins, increased when the speaker he begins to recite the titles that the Spaniard has won, running out of breath when he reaches the stage referred to Roland Garros. There are 13 wound there, and the good old Popyrin, a 21-year-old boy who this Thursday aspired to have fun, as he commented the day before, giggles softly while listening to it because it is hard to imagine it.

The Australian competes without kinks. That is, neither more nor less than with what you have. It is the 76th in the world and exudes that game that hates romantics, stick to stick from start to finish. Atina with the first, the last is lost in a corridor. It starts with seven consecutive points, but Nadal knows perfectly where the shots are going and in front of the uncontrolled power, in front of that single track tennis that the new generations exhibit and invites us to rewind with nostalgia towards the past, he raises a brainy answer. As soon as the boy loses precision, the story is a breeze for the champion of 20 majors, who deactivates the rival’s momentum with a break and responds with the second to the reply that provides a minimal dose of pepper to the first set.

From there, a spring walk for Nadal, who is enough with another scratch in the second set and keep the service to claim another Australian victim on the ground (10-0), and one more in terms of opponents from of the previous phases on clay: 40-0. If in Monte Carlo and Barcelona he went through jerks, the Mallorcan has found in the Caja Mágica a most pleasant take-off. He cut down the promising Carlos Alcaraz (18) at the premiere and Popyrin is little more than a mid-afternoon tea. It is toning and taking good color, despite the fact that the second does not offer rhythm and forces more to the job than anything else. In any case, improvements are perceived in all sections, significantly with the serve. Faded until landing in Madrid, it recovers its shape and from there the elaboration of the stitch is another story. Thus, now expect a pulse in the quarters with Alexander Zverev or Daniel Evans.

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