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Madrid 2024 - Rafael Nadal spoils 16-year old Darwin Blanch debut in Madrid

Updated: May 6

Professional tennis player Rafael Nadal hitting a two-handed backhand in Madrid on a clay court.
Rafael Nadal hitting a backhand in Madrid 2024 - Source: ATP Tour

Rafael Nadal starts the 2024 Madrid Open on a good note

The fans were awaiting this match since it was announced, on one side of the net the Spanish tennis legend Rafael Nadal, on the other side, the 16-year old Darwin Blanch. The age gap between the 2 players, 21 years and 117 days, was the fifth biggest gap since the creation of the ATP Tour in 1990.

Rafael Nadal wasn't intimidated by this factor one bit, he took just over an hour (66 mins) to get rid of the young American 6-1, 6-0. This would be good news for Nadal that he didn't have to spend too much time on the court since he's still struggling with an abdominal injury, but let's be honest, it was a poor warmup for his next challenge: Alex de Minaur.

Will Rafael Nadal take his revenge?

It's the same Alex de Minaur who spoiled Rafael Nadal's comeback on the tour last week when he beat him 7-5, 6-1 in Barcelona. Nadal looked good in the first set, even getting a break point at *3-4 to take the lead, but in the end he made too many unforced errors. The good news is that Nadal's serve and forehand looked way better today than it did last week. Let's hope that he will be able to shift gears again when he plays Alex de Minaur next.

Madrid 2024 Press Conference - Rafael Nadal

In a turn of event during his press conference in Madrid yesterday, Nadal said that he wasn't feeling competitive enough yet, even going as far as saying that it could jeopardize his participation at the French Open. This is a big contrast compared to his press conference last week in Barcelona where he said that he would be ready to die in Paris:

If I arrive [in] Paris the way I feel today, I will not play. I will play Roland-Garros if I feel competitve. If I can play, I play. If I can't play, I can't. It won't be the end of the world or the end of my career. I still got goals after Roland-Garros, like the Olympics.

Unfortunately, today's performance did not give him any boost to his confidence in being able to be competitive in time for Roland-Garros:

Darwin has a lot of potential but missed a lot. Made my life easy. It was an hour match. It doesn't change anything about my perspective on Roland-Garros. I won't make a decision about Paris here in Madrid. I will decide after playing Rome.

Let's hope that Rafael Nadal is satisfied by his performances in the next few weeks because it would be a sacrilege to not see Nadal in Paris one last time before he retires.

If you're interested in learning more about Rafael Nadal's career, we recommend you read his autobiography and New York Times best-seller : RAFA. You can buy this book and support Tennis Clubhouse at the same time by using this link.


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