In Indian Wells, Rafa Nadal played a tennis match against a basketball player. But he ended up putting the plugs. The Spaniard steps into the quarterfinals of the Masters 1,000 after withstand the stones thrown by Reilly Opelka from his 2.11 meters (the same height as, for example, Marc Gasol) to win by 7-6 (3) and 7-6 (5) at 2:11.
This Thursday (not before 11:00 p.m., #Vamos) he will face the always unpredictable and dangerous Nick Kyrgios (5-3 in the head-to-head for the Spaniard), which went without playing due to the withdrawal of Jannik Sinner. After Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz will also seek access to the same round against Gael Monfils. The two go to the top of the table and would face each other in the semifinals.
Opelka, 24 years old and 17th in the world, looking like a lumberjack, actually has a sensitive soulgood touch with the racket and more variety of shots than expected in a tennis player of this size, who declares that his favorite surface is… clay. A fan of modern art, he promotes on his cap a gallery in Antwerp (Tim van Laere Gallery) where his favorite artists exhibit. And he put Nadal in troublewhich already chains 18 wins in a rowfattening up his best starter ever.
His best start to a season yet 💪
— ATP Tour (@atptour) March 16, 2022
In the first set, the champion of 21 Grand Slams came out convinced of his plan. He had to shield himself and firmly resist the volleys in the form of serves that were going to reach him mercilessly. So she crouched against the back fence, several yards behind the white line. From there she subtracted as she could serves at more than 230 km / h, while the ball bounces up to two meters (ATP measurement), jumping almost to the stands. The Spaniard strengthened his serve because any mistake could cost him dearly (he lost only three points with the first serve and none with the second) and after having a single break ball that he did not take advantage of, he headed for a tie-break that he resolved with only three unforced errors in the sleeve.
But in the second, Opelka moved his 211 centimeters around the track well (he is the tallest tennis player along with Croatian Ivo Karlovic). and achieved a break for 2-3 while the Spaniard disconnected at times and seemed to limp from that left foot that torments him due to a chronic injury. But, once again, he was resurrected. Contrabreak for 4-4 and tension for the Chicago Bulls fanwho began to see how the point guard from Manacor was capable of jumping on his shots. The points lengthened, the game rose to a higher level and in the tiebreaker Nadal definitively blocked the cannon and the path of the American.
In the Indian Wells of Indian Wells, in the arid Coachella Valley, the great chief of Manacor went to the locker room with Opelka’s thick hair in his hand. With the table clarified and while others fall (Medvedev, Zverev, Berrettini…) Nadal survives. Also against basketball players.