Barcelona Open: Rafael Nadal faces second round exit

Alex de Minaur produced brick wall consistency against the Spaniard

By Web Desk
April 17, 2024
Nadal was playing his second tournament of 2024 and first since January. - X/@TennisMagazine1

Rafael Nadal's first tournament since January came to an abrupt end after just two games, with the Spaniard losing 7-5, 6-1 to Alex de Minaur at the clay-court Barcelona Open on Wednesday.

Nadal, returning from an injury layoff, showed glimpses of his past during the second-round match but struggled to keep pace with the 11th-ranked De Minaur.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion comfortably defeated 62nd-ranked Flavio Cobolli in straight sets in the first round on Tuesday, marking his first competitive match in over three months.

Whilst Nadal seemed to be free from injury on Wednesday, he couldn't assert dominance against the in-form De Minaur, who clinched his second career victory over Nadal.

This loss was merely Nadal's fifth at the Barcelona Open, a tournament he has triumphed in a record 12 times.

Nadal is making a comeback from yet another injury break and hasn't played since an exhibition match against Carlos Alcaraz in March. Prior to this week, he had only participated in three matches this year—all in Brisbane in January—before opting out of the Australian Open.

Nadal also withdrew from Monte Carlo, stating that his body wasn't ready. With the French Open, where Nadal has triumphed 14 times, commencing next month, it remains uncertain whether he will take part in the forthcoming Madrid Open.

The 37-year-old Nadal underwent hip surgery last summer and has suggested that 2024 is likely to be his final year on the tour.