Alas! Rafael Nadal will make a comeback at the Madrid Open after being sidelined for over a month due to a rib stress fracture. The King of Clay will play his first game of the tournament in the Spanish capital against Miomir Kecmanovic during a crucial encounter for Nadal. The young Serb entered the round of 32 after defeating Alexander Bublik in the round-of-64. Kecmanovic defeated Bublik by 6-4, 7-5 in an hour and 16 minutes encounter. The 22-year-old seemed to be in good for. And it could prove to be a tall order for Nadal to win during his return match. Kecmanovic is dominant on his serve, winning 82% and 89% points during his first and second serve. Moreover, the Serb did not let Bublik score a single breakpoint against him during his tournament opener.
The two rivals have clashed once in the ATP tour at the Mexican Open in 2020. The last time around, Nadal got the better of Kecmanovic, defeating him by 6-2 and 7-5 in a two-sets encounter. However, the young Serb has become a much better player in the last two years. Thus, the upcoming game is anticipated to be a thrilling encounter between Nadal & Kecmanovic.
Match Preview: Rafael Nadal vs. Miomir Kecmanovic
Nadal had a brilliant start to the 2022 season. In January, the Spaniard won the Australian Open to lift his 21st-Grand Slam, most by any man. Rafa has an amazing win-loss record of 20-1 so far. He was undefeated with 20 wins in 2022 before Taylor Fritz defeated him at the Indian Wells finals. Unfortunately, the 35-year-old suffered a rib stress fracture during the conclusive stages of the Indian Wells tournament.
Unfortunately, the Serb missed out on the Miami Masters, Monte Carlo, and the Barcelona Open. Thus, Nadal will find himself in a tricky situation during his first match of the Madrid Open. He will face a much younger opponent, which will be the test of his endurance. However, the Spaniard has a lot of experience and is considered the favorite to win his first encounter of the clay season. If Nadal wins, he might face Carlos Alcaraz in the quarter-finals and Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.
While Nadal may have the upper hand, Miomir Kecmanovic is in great form this year, winning 14 of his last 18 games. The young Serb had an immense battle against Carlos Alcaraz at the Miami Masters. Although Kecmanovic lost in three tight sets, he showed a glimpse of his capabilities during the match. Miomir would be hoping to draw inspiration from his recent encounter against Djokovic at the Serbian Open. The young Serb started well by winning the first set against the world no. 1. However, Nole made a strong comeback and bagged the game by winning two sets in a row.
Kecmanovic’s strong suit is his service games. Hence, he will have to find a way to consistently hold on to his service against a strong returner like Nadal to give himself a winning chance. The young Serb would look to force Nadal to hit more backhand wings to stop the Spaniard from dominating the baseline exchanges. It will be thrilling to witness if Kecmanovic hands an upsetting defeat to Nadal or the Spaniard makes a strong comeback during his first encounter after the injury. The match is scheduled for Wednesday, April 4th, at 3:00 p.m. BST. So, don’t miss it.