To reach 15 Masters 1000 quarter-finals, the one has to play on a high level at the premium ATP series for a couple of seasons and various surfaces. On the other hand, we have Rafael Nadal, an exceptional competitor with almost 100 Masters 1000 quarter-finals overall and 15 at two different tournaments, a feat that will take some beating in the future!
After achieving 15 Monte Carlo quarter-finals between 2005-2019, Nadal has secured that record at his other favorite event in Rome, advancing into the last eight for the 15th time in the previous 16 seasons. Besides outstanding results in Monte Carlo and Rome, Nadal has 14 quarter-finals in Madrid (the Spanish capital event should have taken place before Rome but was canceled), joined on that number by Novak Djokovic, who is through to his 14th straight Rome quarter-final this week.
Competing for the place in the last eight, Nadal toppled Dusan Lajovic 6-1, 6-3 in an hour and 30 minutes, continuing where he left against Pablo Carreno Busta and earning the 93rd Masters 1000 quarter-final. Rafa lost 15 points in eight service games, suffering two breaks and erasing that deficit with a dominant performance on the return, scoring six breaks from 14 opportunities to keep the strings in his hands.
Nadal got broken in the third game, shifting into a higher gear to rattle off four straight games and close the set with three breaks on his tally. The Spaniard landed a forehand crosscourt winner in the first game for a hold at 15, securing an early break in game two following a forehand mistake from the Serb.
Surprisingly, Rafa lost the ground a bit at 2-0, spraying a forehand error to suffer a break at love and bring Dusan back into contention, ready to push even harder in the rest of the set. The fourth game was the longest of the clash, with Nadal converting the sixth break chance after an incredible forehand return winner that forged a 3-1 lead for him.
A service winner delivered the fifth game for the defending champion, forcing an error from Lajovic to earn another break and open a 5-1 gap.
Rafael Nadal is the first player with 15 quarter-finals at two Masters 1000 events.
Serving for the set, Rafa fired a service winner to wrap it up in 41 minutes, hoping for a similar pace in set number two.
Lajovic kicked it off with a double fault that handed a break to Nadal, with the Spaniard landing a volley winner in game two to confirm the advantage. Fading from the court in those moments, Dusan sent a backhand long to find himself 3-0 down, having a mountain to climb if he wanted a more favorable result against the toughest possible rival.
Rafa brought the fourth game home with a service winner before Lajovic started to play better, earning the set’s first game and threatening on the return. The Serb made the encounter more interesting when he pulled one break back at 1-4 after forcing an error from Rafa, holding at 15 when Nadal netted an easy forehand to remain in touch.
Keeping his composure, the Spaniard closed the eighth game with a service winner, forcing Lajovic to serve for staying in the encounter. The Serb couldn’t survive that ninth game, spraying a backhand mistake and propelling Nadal into the last eight with a break at love.
Thus, Rafa secured another Masters 1000 milestone, one of many of his proud collection.