How Rafael Nadal's simple gesture of gifting his shirt to Pedro Cachin at Madrid Open has left the tennis world divided with unexpected drama

Pedro Cachin and Rafael Nadal faced off in the third round of the Madrid Open
Pedro Cachin and Rafael Nadal faced off in the third round of the Madrid Open

Rafael Nadal defeated Pedro Cachin at the Madrid Open 2024 in what turned out to be his final win in the Spanish capital. After his defeat, Cachin asked for Nadal's shirt as a souvenir and the Spaniard obliged. However, this gesture between the two has divided opinion in the tennis world.

Cachin, a Nadal fan himself, told the Spaniard that it was a dream come true to compete against him in Madrid, before asking for his shirt. Nadal, who is seemingly on a farewell tour agreed and handed over a shirt to his Argentine opponent before sharing a hug.

"It’s a dream come true for me, I'm not sure what is the protocol, but can I ask you for a shirt?", Cachin asked Rafael Nadal.

While Cachin followed his heart and took home a piece of history with him, Nadal's fourth-round opponent at the Madrid Open, Jiri Lehecka had a different view on the incident.

The Czech star won the clash against Rafael Nadal in the fourth round to knock the Spaniard out before admitting that he would never ask anything from his opponent, saying it would be a little 'weird'.

Jiri Lehecka and BBC's David Law add to the 'shirt' drama

Jiri Lehecka greets Rafael Nadal at the net after their Madrid Open clash
Jiri Lehecka greets Rafael Nadal at the net after their Madrid Open clash

Talking to the press after his win against Rafael Nadal, Jiri Lehecka claimed that he would never do something like what Cachin did, asking his opponent for a souvenir. The Czech star added that it is weird to expect something from the opponent at a competition.

"If you're playing a game and you're thinking about asking your opponent to give you something, I mean, why are you there? It's a little weird, in my opinion. You can have your opinion on this topic, and I totally respect what Pedro did. It's great for me, I have no problem with it, but I wouldn't do something like that," Lehecka said.

Lehecka's bold statement was backed by BBC's David Law, a veteran commentator, who posted a tweet regarding the incident. The Brit was not too happy with Cachin's request and felt it was unnecessary.

"Sorry Pedro, asking for your opponent’s shirt at the net ain’t it," David Law tweeted.

With Pedro Cachin seemingly under fire for his gesture, Nick Kyrgios jumped to the Argentine's rescue. The Australian star shut down any criticism towards Cachin and Nadal by replying to David Law via his Twitter account.

Nick Kyrgios and Iga Swiatek among high profile names to back Nadal's gesture

Kyrgios and Law were involved in a Twitter exchange regarding the Cachin-Nadal shirt drama. After Law opined that Cachin didn't have to ask for Nadal's shirt, Kyrgios questioned the BBC commentator by mentioning that 'shirt exchange' has been a common practice in football and the NBA.

The Australian added that only a small percentage of people are in the position to play against their idols and they should savor it.

"Why? NBA players, soccer players do it all the time? It’s a memory, an experience that took a life time of work and that less than 1% of humans get to. You wouldn’t understand," Nick Kyrgios tweeted replying to David Law

Like Kyrgios, Iga Swiatek endorsed Pedro Cachin's gesture as well. The Pole was asked about it during her press conference in Madrid where she claimed that she would happily ask for Nadal's shirt if she ever faced the Spaniard. However, the World No. 1 admitted it is something that's not possible.

“Hmm. Not really, but if I would play against Rafa, for sure I would ask for a T-shirt. (Laughter.) But that's not possible (smiling),” Iga Swiatek said.

Apart from Kyrgios and Swiatek, even former World No. 1 Boris Becker tweeted in support of Rafael Nadal. The German appreciated Nadal's sportsman spirit and tweeted 'Vamos Rafa' while replying to the shirt incident posted by the ATP social media team.

"Vamos Rafa," Becker posted on X

What seemed like a sweet gesture by Nadal at first has been twisted into a controversy. The tennis world remains divided on the subject but, understandably, Pedro Cachin wanted to take away a part of history with him. As it turned out, the Argentine has taken home with him a shirt from Nadal's last-ever victory at the Madrid Open and it is something that he will cherish forever.

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