An all-Spanish match-up is scheduled to take place Friday afternoon, as world No. 3 Rafael Nadal and Nicolas Almagro meet for a spot in the third round in Miami. This is a particularly intriguing match-up, as Nadal lost to Almagro for the first time in his career in their last meeting in Barcelona last season. Nadal holds a 10-1 record in the head-to-head series against Almagro and will be keen to add to that number on Friday.
While Nadal arrived in Miami ready to complete, a sudden twist of fate led to the Spaniard taking a serious fall during one of his practice sessions and turned his left ankle. It was initially believed that he would not be fit to compete, but he informed the Associated Press on Tuesday that he was perfectly fit to perform on Friday.
“It’s for sure I’m going to be on court on Friday,” Nadal told the Associated Press on Tuesday. “The thing is, I don’t know how well I’m going to be prepared for then. I hope to be ready. It’s an important tournament for me.”
With the injury woe somewhat behind him, Nadal hopes to win his first career title in Miami. Following an opening round loss in Doha to kick off the season, Nadal reached the quarter-final in Melbourne, the semi-final in Rio, and won Buenos Aires before recently losing to Milos Raonic in the Indian Wells quarter-final.
World No. 74 Almagro needed three sets to set up the second round clash with Nadal. He defeated Sergiy Stakhovsky in three sets to secure his spot in the tournament on Friday. He hit 16 aces to win the match 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-4 in two hours and 20 minutes.
This marks the 12th time these two competitors will clash on the ATP World Tour, with Nadal holding an solid 10-1 record against Almagro. The record includes an 8-0 clay court record, including ones in Barcelona and Acapulco in 2013. However, Almagro shocked the tennis community last season when he rallied from a set down to beat Nadal in the decider of the Barcelona quarter-final. Given that Nadal was far from his best at the time, this encounter should be far different to that memorable affair last October.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in Straight Sets
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