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'It is an opportunity to test my level', Nadal looking forward to Tsitsipas challenge

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 11 May 2019
  • Rafael Nadal says his Madrid Open semi-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas gives him another opportunity to test his level
  • Nadal vs Tsitsipas is live from Madrid on Saturday, 11 May from 9:00pm local time/ 8:00pm BST
Rafael Nadal. (Photo: Legan P. Mace/SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire)

Rafael Nadal says his Madrid Open semi-final against Greek young gun, Stefanos Tsitsipas gives him another opportunity to test his level, as the Spaniard continues his build up his form ahead of the French Open.

Nadal hasn't been at his absolute best through the 2019 clay-court season, losing semi-finals in Monte Carlo and Barcelona to Fabio Fognini and Dominic Thiem respectively, but the great Spaniard played arguably his best clay-court match of the season in his Madrid Open quarter final on Friday night, beating Stan Wawrinka 6-1 6-2.

Nadal was understandably delighted with the level of his play against Wawrinka, describing it as a "great performance", but he is typically not getting too carried away by that showing, and has swiftly turned his focus to another ‘good test’ against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-finals on Saturday. 

“It is a good test for me. I’m facing some of the best players. He has a lot of confidence”, Nadal said about Tsitsipas.  “He’s been playing well recently and it is an opportunity to test my level of game and to confirm those good feelings that I have had today on the court”.  
“I’ll need to play my best. Today was a good example. I need to continue tomorrow, that's the goal.”

Nadal is 0-2 against top-ten opposition this year, losing to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final, and to Dominic Thiem in the Barcelona semi-finals, but the great Spaniard will get another go on Saturday, with Tsitsipas ranked ninth in the world.

“You need tough matches to be able to measure yourself, to be able to test yourself, to compete and to fight for every single point and to keep on finding the things that I might need”. 


Nadal hasn’t lost a set to Tsitsipas in their three meetings, beating the youngster in the Barcelona and Toronto finals last season, and ruthlessly terminating the Greek's sensational Australian Open run at the semi-final stage earlier this year, but the great Spaniard appreciates the improvements Tsitsipas has made since that Melbourne meeting and is expecting a tougher challenge. Since his semi-final loss to Nadal, Tsitsipas has gone on to win titles in Marseille and Estoril, made another final in Dubai, and broken into the top-ten.

“He’s also a young player. He has a lot of potential, a lot of energy. He’s playing well, Nadal said. "He won last week in Estoril and he’s already won a lot of matches in a row. So, it’s going to be one of these matches that is an opportunity". 

Nadal said in Barcelona that he was happy with the improvements he had made, and was playing with greater confidence, despite his semi-final defeat to Thiem, and he has backed up those claims this week, beating Felix Auger-Aliassime, Frances Tiafoe and Wawrinka in straight sets to get into the Madrid semi-finals. 

“Weeks like this really help me a lot in order to build my game and to improve and tomorrow is another extra opportunity and, hopefully, I will be ready to play against an opponent like the one I have to face tomorrow”. 

Nadal might have made a relatively slow start to his clay-court campaign, but he showed in his crushing victory over Wawrinka that he is not too far off his best. The King of Clay will look to further drive home that message when he plays Tsitsipas in the Madrid semi-finals on Saturday. 

Nadal vs Tsitsipas is live from Madrid on Saturday, 11 May from 9:00pm local time/ 8:00pm BST. Read the full match preview.

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"It is an opportunity to test my level", Nadal looking forward to Tsitsipas challenge

Rafael Nadal says his Madrid Open semi-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas gives him another opportunity to test his level.

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