Nadal Beats Monfils To Open Quest For Sixth Madrid Crown

Spanish star moves to within two sets of breaking McEnroe's long-standing record

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal recorded his 20th straight clay-court match win and improved to 48 consecutive sets won on the surface Wednesday as he started his quest for a sixth Mutua Madrid Open trophy.

The Spanish superstar soon dismantled the game of France’s Gael Monfils, hitting 17 winners in a 6-3, 6-1 second-round victory that lasted 74 minutes. He is now two sets shy of breaking John McEnroe’s record of 49 straight sets won on a single surface (carpet) in 1984, including 10 to win the Madrid Indoor Open.

Nadal, who improved to 49-10 at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, will next meet Argentine No. 13 seed Diego Schwartzman, who beat fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 7-5, 2-6, 6-2 in two hours and 21 minutes. Lopez, 36, will become the Tournament Director for the 2019 event.

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When asked how he analyses his game during a winning streak, Nadal admitted, “The process is very simple for me: I analyse every day the things that happened and try to fix things. My team and I, we need to keep improving, and keep doing the things that are working very well. Every day is a different day. What happened the week before or two weeks ago is in the past.

“We were thinking just about the match of today. Now we are thinking about the match of tomorrow. That's the way that I analyse things. I don't think if I had a lot of victories in a row. I think that I have another tough match tomorrow, I can go on court and win or lose. Of course, there are always things to improve. I go on court every day to try to make that happen.”

Nadal got off to a 3-0 lead in his first match on Court Manolo Santana, but talented former World No. 6 Monfils didn’t give up fighting and held break point chances in the first (one) and third games (two). Nadal lost just one of his 13 service points in the 31-minute second set that ended with Monfils, the 2008 and 2010 quarter-finalist, striking a backhand long.

Nadal, who turns 32 on 3 June, is now 17-1 on the season (13-0 on clay), which includes 11th titles at both the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (d. Nishikori) and the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (d. Tsitsipas). He is also 14-2 lifetime against Monfils in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

“I [have done] a lot of things well since I came back,” said Nadal. “I play with the right intensity, the right focus all the time. My backhand is working great. The forehand working well, too, as always, more or less. But the backhand is a shot that is working well.

“What I am most pleased with is I am recovered from my injury. That makes me feel strong and [I] go on court with confidence [knowing] that I can [compete in] tough matches. That's important for me especially on this surface.”

Did You Know?
Rafael Nadal won a record 81 matches on clay courts between April 2005 to May 2007, including 13 titles.

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