APRIL 21 - MAY 4, 2025

Game, set and eternity: Nadal

The close of play on Tuesday provided one of the most special moments in the history of the Mutua Madrid Open. The stroke of midnight between April 30 and May 1 2024 in the Caja Magica marked the moment of the final farewell to the Caja Magica from the five-time champion of the tournament (2005, 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2017).

The spotlights and the deployed roof of the Manolo Santana Stadium set the stage for the last dance Rafael Nadal offered the Madrid fans as a parting gift after twenty participations in the Spanish capital. The Mallorcan player produced the final epilogue of his MMOPEN legend against Jiri Lehecka.

His clash with the Czech player lasted two hours and two minutes (7-5, 6-4). A win would have meant victory number 60 for the Spaniard in Madrid, but his count will now forever remain at 59 triumphs and just 15 defeats since his first match against Álex Corretja in the Madrid Arena in 2003.

Nadal, who touched down in Madrid with the sole expectation of continuing to scale up his return to competition upon his last appearance in the Spanish Masters 1000, regaled his faithful fans with more joy that he could ever have imagined when he arrived on the clay of the Caja Magica one week ahead of time.

The baptism of fire for the young Darwin Blanch in round one (6-1, 6-0), revenge one week on against Alex de Minaur (7-6[6], 6-3) and his epic three-hour battle with Pedro Cachín (6-1, 6-7[5], 6-3) led to the last three times in Madrid that the umpire would pronounce the words “Game, set and match: Nadal”.

Nadal and the Mutua Madrid Open, the Mutua Madrid Open and Nadal. Tennis lovers will never forget the magical moments the two of them have conjured up over the years. The cries of ‘Vamos, Rafa!’, the fist pumps after astonishing shots, and the looks to the fans for a spark of inspiration when his powers seemed to be deserting him.

The moment nobody was ready for, as much as they knew a defeat would mark the end of the road, arrived in the most special way possible: right at the end of a Tuesday and the beginning of a Wednesday. But Nadal was able to say farewell to Madrid just as he wanted: feeling competitive on the tennis court where, on his clay, he has left a footprint that will remain for eternity.