‘I had the match under control,’ says Rafael Nadal after easing past Alexei Popyrin

Rafael Nadal says he ‘had the match under control’ after he eased past Alexei Popyrin at the Madrid Masters.

Nadal started relatively slowly, and was quite fortunate to hold his first service game in the face of an early barrage from the young Australian.

However, Nadal quickly figured out his opponent and secured a relatively routine 6-3, 6-3 win.

After the match he was sure to pay tribute to Popyrin, who he thinks has ‘big potential,’ although he was mainly just satisfied with his own game.

“It was difficult,” Nadal said after the match. “The court today was slippery, very fast, very dry conditions.

“The ball was flying a lot, so beginning of the match was super tough.

“He was hitting every ball, and hitting the spots. So, [I’m] very happy with the victory, an important victory. He came here playing well. Every match is tough.

“Yesterday he played against Sinner and he beat Jannik, so massive amount of respect. He has a big potential honestly.

“Later, I think I had – more or less – the match under control. If we can say like this, against a player like him. But I was comfortable on the score.

“I think I was doing things well, even if it was difficult to play against a player that was trying to hit every single ball.

“He was hitting every ball hard, so I needed to adapt and I think I did it well.”

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