After a horribly slow start for Nadal, in which it took him almost 15 minutes to hold the opening service game he was broken in the third game before immediately breaking back.
As time passed Nadal’s movement seemed to improve even if he still struggled to find his serve. His ground strokes looked to have found the depth and penetration (except his backhand slice) that he has lacked in recent months but as always he left fans wondering what happened to his serve from the 2010 US Open.
Unfortunately for Nadal fans it seems despite 6 weeks off after the Australian Open his knee problems have once again reared their ugly head. He called for the trainer after flexing his knee in the eighth game for some massage and to have his patella tendon strapped.
Despite a hiccup in the second set Nadal finished confidently and looked more inspired than jaded, his enthusiasm waning at the end of last season.
Nadal now faces a tough quarterfinal – Jo Wilfried Tsonga awaits.
If Nadal intends on beating powerhouses like Jo (on a good day) and Novak Djokovic (every day) he’s going to need to go back to his US Open 2010 serve and keep the points shorter, dominate more. We all know he can run… we don’t really need any more proof – his knees don’t need to run any extra miles.
Q. In the first set you took a trainer break. New injury? Left knee? Is it okay?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, well, I had this since Indian Wells. During the week of Indian Wells, the knee was getting a little bit worse, so I arrive here so so, and happy I still play in quarterfinals.
I am not probably at perfect conditions today with the left knee, but important thing is try to win as many matches as possible. For me here is important tournament, and every victory have, you know, very, very big value for me, especially without being perfect.
But important thing after this is I have two weeks to recover for Monte Carlo. I’m happy to be in quarterfinals, and I will try my best for the next round, for sure.