APRIL 21 - MAY 4, 2025

Nadal earns another date with Madrid

Rafael Nadal once again felt the warmth of the Manolo Santana Stadium as he embarked on his final career appearance at the Mutua Madrid Open. The Balearic Islander began to write the 20th chapter of a legendary sporting story in the Spanish capital, motivated by the emotions that the tournament has inspired in him since he was a teenager. The five-time champion, the most-decorated player in the history of the event, stepped out onto the clay with a further-reaching feeling than that of victory; the excitement of competing in Madrid, with the support of a fanbase that loves him from the bottom of their hearts.

The Mallorcan beat US player Darwin Blanch 6-1, 6-0, completing a straightforward win on one of the most important courts in his career. Despite the difference on the scoreboard, in a baptism of fire for his 16-year-old opponent, there was no lack of intensity from the stands on the centre court. The cheers for the Manacor native and applause for every triumph, however miniature, were ever-present for Nadal on an emotional afternoon. After so many years of epic victories, the Spanish capital wants to be with Rafa until the very last.

“He’s a very young player, I think he has a great future ahead of him. He has very powerful shots, but I think he’s lacked continuity. I wish him all the best. I played fine, I’m happy, this gave me the opportunity of having another day in Madrid, which means a lot to me. I need to play these tournaments and I think it’s part of a process of improvement”.

In such a special week, Nadal will now have another opportunity to soak up the love of the fans. On Saturday he will play in the second round of the tournament against tenth seed Alex de Minaur, whom he faced a week ago on the clay of Barcelona. Above all, the Spaniard was grateful for the standing ovation he has earned many times over after all these years.

“Last week it wasn’t to be and this week I’m sure it’ll be more difficult”, admitted the Mallorcan of his next opponent. “But I’ll have the chance to play again. Anything that comes now is a gift, so I’m happy to go out on court again, and excited to do so as well as possible. I’ll try to be as competitive as I can”.

Waiting on the other side of the net will be one of the players of the moment. In a season replete with significant milestones, breaking into the Top 10 in the world and winning the biggest trophy of his life, De Minaur is sixth on the points list in 2024. He has found a consistency of the likes never seen before in his career.

“He’s a difficult player”, warned Nadal. “He’s been playing at a very high level from the start of the season. I think the altitude here will favour him a little more, the ball will be heavier with the flat shots he hits. But I have to continue on my path, improving as far as possible in every sense. To me it’s an opportunity and I’m going to do everything possible”.

Madrid is now waiting for another opportunity to witness its beloved champion, and welcome him once more with open arms. On Saturday, the Spanish capital has an unmissable date with Rafa.