APRIL 21 - MAY 4, 2025

Thank you, Rafa

Rafael Nadal has played his last match in the Manolo Santana Stadium. The news may take some time to sink in around the tennis world. One of the greatest athletes of all time has brought an end to his home career, with the entire Caja Magica on its feet as he bade them farewell. If the greatest glory is recognition and the applause of one’s people, then the Mallorcan was surely given one of the greatest rewards of his legendary career. A standing ovation, and not a dry eye in centre court. His family, his friends, and all the fans shed a tear at the farewell of one of the greats.

“It’s been a very special week for me, very positive in many ways”, acknowledged an emotional Nadal at a tribute in recognition of his career. Five banners unfurled at one end of the stadium, one in recognition of each of his five triumphs in the Spanish capital (2005, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2017). “I had the chance to play again on court. It was very special, both personally and in terms of the tennis. A few weeks ago, two days before Barcelona, I didn’t know if I would compete in an official match again and I’ve now played two weeks. It’s been unforgettable”.

In a moving atmosphere, Nadal looked happy as he addressed the fans. After over two decades at the tournament, the Mallorcan spoked about the connection he has always had with a public that has loved him like a son.

“The only thing I can say is ‘thank you’”, continued the Spaniard. “It’s been an incredible journey that started when I was little. I came to Madrid for the first time in 2003, when the tournament was played indoors. The first time I came here feeling competitive was in 2005. It was one of the most exciting wins of my career, still indoors. Ever since, the support has been unconditional from everyone. I cannot thank you enough”.

The giant screens in the Manolo Santana Stadium showed a video with the most memorable scenes of his time in the Spanish capital. Standing in the heart of the court on which he produced so much magic, it was with a smile on his face that the five-time champion watched the moments that made him a legend of the sport.

“I was only joking, I’m coming back next year”, laughed the Balearic Islander when the video concluded. “Looking at the pictures, some of them seem like they were a lifetime ago. All I can do is thank everyone who has helped me in my career. Even though it’s not over, this is the last time I’ll be in Madrid. You have given me a gift for the last 21 years that’s more significant than any Grand Slam I have won. The emotions of playing in Madrid, in front of the Spanish fans, is something that will stay with me forever. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to do a hobby as my job, and to do it exceptionally well. I feel so lucky to have had all these experiences. I couldn’t ask for more”.

Now visibly emotional, Nadal dedicated a few heartfelt words to the spectators. He spoke of his wish to be a role model for young people, highlighting the transformational power of sport on society.

“I hope I’ve set a positive example for the new generations. That’s the most important thing”, he noted. “Titles and sporting moments are exciting. Sport generates excitement and emotion, I have experienced it as a fan. From what I can see, I hope that I’ve created excitement and emotion for all of you. The only thing I can say is ‘thank you’. That’s all I can say. That’s how I feel. It was one of those days that are difficult when they arrive. I think that life and my body have been sending me messages for some time that this day had to come. I’ve been lucky to do it at one of the places that have been the most emotional for me. Thank you all”.

“I’d like to thank Feli [López], Gerard [Tsobanian] and Ion [Tiriac], and everyone who made it possible for the tournament to be played in Madrid. It’s amazing for all the Spanish players and I’m sure the next generations will continue to enjoy the atmosphere here. Thank you so much everyone for helping me have this moment”.

The Balearic Islander, who received a trophy in commemoration of his career in the Spanish capital, dedicated a final farewell to the fans that have been with him all along the way. One message stood out above the rest: THANK YOU

Thank you, Rafa.