Rafael Nadal will kick off the night session on Thursday in Madrid, taking on the talented young American Frances Tiafoe. Nadal had been suffering with illness over the past week but there seems to be no ill effects coming into this third round clash.
Nadal holds himself to a very high standard and was not one to overreact about his performance, despite rarely being troubled by Felix Auger-Aliassime on Wednesday. “It’s a day to be very satisfied, very happy. I managed to win. I managed to win in two sets [against] an opponent, who was not easy, and the day was not the best. It was windy and cold,” Nadal said of the 6-3 6-3 win.“Of course there have been positive things. I think that my backhand has been really [going] well and other things. There are many things to improve, of course.”
There were some struggles for Tiafoe following his Australian Open quarter final but he seems to have worked through them, following up a quarter final in Estoril with this run. He followed up an impressive win against the seeded Nikoloz Basilashvili with another three set victory against Philipp Kohlschreiber. A Roland Garros seeding is not a million miles away for the American, who came into this tournament just inside the top 40.
“Frances is a very high-level opponent. He has a lot of speed. He’s very aggressive. And he’s an electric player. He serves very well. He moves very good on the clay. He comes in with a lot of confidence… He has that drive and energy, and it will be a good test for me and an opportunity for me to play a tough match and to keep improving.” Nadal said, well aware of the test he is facing. Their only meeting came this year in the aforementioned quarter final, with Nadal cruising to a straight sets victory.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in straight sets