ATP MADRID: Rafa Nadal sets up a clash with Novak Djokovic

Nadal has lost his last three matches on clay against Djokovic, and his last seven overall against the Serb.

The second-seeded Djokovic will next play either Gilles Simon of France or Feliciano Lopez of Spain.

"I think he's the best clay-courter in the world, the greatest clay-courter of all-time".

"He's very fit", Nadal said.

"Right now I feel fine", he said. "My aim and the tournament's was to start on Tuesday but after this it's better to wait a day and start on Wednesday".

It was Djokovic's first match since splitting with longtime coach Marian Vajda.

On the other side of the draw Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas advanced to his first ever Masters series semi-final by outlasting German wonder kid Alexander Zverev 3-6, 6-0, 6-4.

Asked about Novak Djokovic's decision to change his coaches in an attempt to end a poor run of form, he said: "I have never done that, although I have started working with Carlos Moya, who is well known to me and we are all happy working together. I know that I have to play at my highest level, perhaps similar to today or even better".

Almagro settled his play in the second and matched Djokovic throughout, erasing two break points at 4-4, 15/40 to hold.

The world No. 75, who dipped down to the challenger tour after losing in the first round of the Australian Open earlier this year, then looked set for a monumental upset as he raced into a 3-0 lead in the decider.

Their most competitive encounter to date was their semifinal, a war of attrition match in Rome, which Djokovic managed to win, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5), and ultimately, had nothing in the tank in the final against Murray.

The home favourite needed 90 minutes to complete the opening set, finally finishing off Italian Fognini on a second match point after being broken while serving for victory.

Djokovic cruised in the first set by breaking the 76th-ranked Almagro three times.

Rafael Nadal's debut at the Madrid Open has been pushed back a day because of an ear infection.

David Goffin awaits the victor of Nadal's clash with Australian Kyrgios as the Belgian beat world number six Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-2.

Canadian Milos Raonic defeated Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the Madrid Open Round of 16 Wednesday morning.

Djokovic had to withdraw from the Miami Open because of an elbow injury.

In the third round of the women's singles Eugenie Bouchard plays Angelique Kerber of Germany, having seen off Maria Sharapova on Monday in a thriller.⁠⁠. The match lasted less than an hour. He will now have the chance to add Nadal to that tally, though few will give him much of a chance. Now I will just check it.

"I hope it's not too serious".

  • Julie Sanders