Four-time champion Rafael Nadal was made to work for his three-set victory over Fabio Fognini at the Mutua Madrid Open on Wednesday.
The Spaniard has been his usual unbeatable self on clay this season, and was coming into the contest on a run of 10 straight victories, but Fognini nearly upset the apple cart with a determined performance on Court Manolo Santana, taking full advantage of a bit of an off day for his opponent.
Nadal twice had to hit back from a break down in the first set before clinching the tie-break, but he was powerless to prevent Fognini from leveling the scores in the second.
But the 'King of Clay' was able to rally in the third set, relying on all of his talent and experience to close out a 7-6 (7-3), 3-6, 6-4 victory in just under three hours.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) May 10, 2017
Afterwards, he admitted it was not his best day at the office, partly blaming windy on-court conditions for upsetting his rhythm.
“I think that even though I played really badly, my attitude has been very positive," he said. "My attitude and the will to win today's match was there. My level of tennis was not so high today, but I managed to make it through. It was uncomfortable. I think before it wasn't so windy, but when I started playing, it was a really awful day. It was really windy.”
Next up for Nadal? A date to watch Atletico Madrid play his Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals.
After that, he will prepare for Thursday’s third-round clash against Nick Kyrgios.
“He's a very difficult opponent,” said Nadal. “He's one of the most difficult players you can play. It's true that I think on clay he's a very, very tough player. I have to play really well to be able to beat him. I think I'm ready to do that.”
Novak Djokovic, Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic were just some of the players who qualified for the third round earlier in the day.
Wednesday's second-round results in Madrid
Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria) beat Ivo Karlovic (Croatia) 6-3 7-5
Borna Coric (Croatia) beat Pierre-Hugues Herbert (France) 7-5 6-4
Rafa Nadal (Spain) beat Fabio Fognini (Italy) 7-6(3) 3-6 6-4
Feliciano Lopez (Spain) beat Gilles Simon (France) 6-3 3-6 7-6(3)
Pablo Cuevas (Uruguay) beat Nicolas Mahut (France) 5-7 6-4 6-4
Novak Djokovic (Serbia) beat Nicolas Almagro (Spain) 6-1 4-6 7-5
Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic) beat Robin Haase (Netherlands) 7-6(5) 6-3
Kei Nishikori (Japan) beat Diego Schwartzman (Argentina) 1-6 6-0 6-4
David Ferrer (Spain) beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (France) walkover
Milos Raonic (Canada) beat Gilles Muller (Luxembourg) 6-4 6-4
Nick Kyrgios (Australia) beat Ryan Harrison (U.S.) 6-3 6-3