Rafael Nadal will look to continue his blistering clay court streak on Thursday evening when he takes on Jack Sock in the first match of evening play on Court Central.
Nadal began his tournament by playing just three games in his opener. Nicolas Almagro, having lost the first 3 games of the match, retired with a knee injury. While he hasn’t overplayed for fatigue to become an issue, Nadal will be happy for the extended rest although he is sure to be disappointed that it had to come at the expense of his countryman suffering a bad injury.
That winning streak now stands at 16 and it would not be surprising for him to extend that to 27 with titles here and in Paris. It would possibly help him with his chances to move back to no.1 in the rankings but a whole lot would have to go right on both his part and that of the other top players. He also insists that he won’t chase it as Andy Murray did last year successfully. “If it happens because I am playing so well, great. But I am not going to do a calendar to try to be No. 1. I am going to try to do my calendar the normal calendar, and if happens, will be something amazing, but that not worries me a lot.” he said.
Sock has had a good year and has a career high ranking of 14 for his efforts. Coming into Madrid, Sock had the longest current streak of quarter finals at Masters 1000 events but that was ended in quick time with a shock loss to Nicolas Mahut. The American began with three set wins over Schwartzman and Vesely in the early rounds here.
It’s fair to say that his next opponent will offer a lot more and it seems almost inevitable that he will fall to 0-4 in their head to head. The most recent clash was fairly comfortable for Nadal who won 6-2 6-3 in Miami. Conditions are perfect for Nadal to seal a similar win here as he continues to show he is not the only member of the big 4 to have a career revival by their standards.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in straight sets