Rafael Nadal paid tribute to Real Madrid for inspiring him to a battling win over David Goffin as he reached the quarter-finals of the Madrid Open.
The former world No. 1 secured an epic and draining 6-3 5-7 7-6(9) victory over his experienced Belgian rival.
Nadal had only returned to practice last Thursday after a rib injury that appeared to hamper his movement on the court, but speaking after his win he was prompted to discuss the win of his favoured football team Real, who pulled off a remarkable comeback over Manchester City on Wednesday.
“Yesterday was an unforgettable night,” he began.
“The spirit that Real Madrid team have is just incredible and for me today, an inspiration for the way I have been fighting all my tennis career.”
He praised the efforts from Goffin, who pushed him hard all the way after going a set down.
“Honestly, [it was] very tough. David played at a very high level and at the same time I am not completely happy because I had to finish the match in straight sets without a doubt,” he said.
Nadal continued to say he was pleased to have had to work hard, with the hours on the court giving him match sharpness after time away.
He added: “Three hours, 10 [minutes] on the court helps increase my physical performance.
“A very important victory, saving match points, that’s confidence, that gave me the chance to keep going. I need matches and days like today to be fitter sooner.”