“Dare I say ‘shot of the tournament’” – Tennis fans react to Rafael Nadal’s baby son’s picture-perfect smile for father during Madrid Open 1R win

Rafael Nadal (L); Maria Francisca Perello with Rafa Jr.
Rafael Nadal (L); Maria Francisca Perello with Rafa Jr.

Rafa Jr's picture-perfect smile for Rafael Nadal during the first round of the 2024 Madrid Open has warmed the hearts of tennis fans on the internet.

Nadal kicked things off in Madrid with a thumping win over the USA's Darwin Blanch on Thursday, April 25. He took only 66 minutes to hand Blanch a 6-1, 6-0 beating on the back of five break points. It was just his second victory for the 2024 season, which is likely to be his last as a professional.

The Spaniard had cute company for the Thursday effort as his one-year-old son Rafa Jr. watched him play on his favorite surface. During the match, professional tennis photographer Ella Ling spotted Junior beaming at his father while sitting in his mother Maria Francisca Perello's lap.

Ling captured the moment through her lens and posted the picture on X (formerly Twitter).

One of the tennis fans on X applauded Ling for her masterful shot, saying:

"Dare I say 'shot of the tournament'"

Another fan requested Ling to reserve a copy of the photograph for the 22-time Grand Slam champion and his wife.

"What an absolute classic! Please give Rafa and Mery a copy or send it to them," the fan wrote.

Here are a few more reactions from X:

"That smile with the 2 teeth in the middle," a fan stated.
"Perfect capture as always," a fan wrote.
"Thanks Ella for yet another masterpiece! This also captures the most beautiful of human relationships, emotions. Such a wonderful gift for us and for Rafa’s family," a fan commented.
"Super cute! I love that #babyrafa has the chance to see his superstar Dad in action at work! Great pic Ella," a fan tweeted.

Rafael Nadal: "When I retire, I would like to be able to go play soccer games with my son"

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal is likely to draw curtains on his decorated tennis career before the 2025 season commences. His post-retirement plans are simple and revolve around his friends and family as he recently revealed his plans to play football with his son Rafa Jr.

"When I retire, I want to have a normal life and I would like to be able to go play football games with my friends tomorrow or with my son," the Spaniard said in an interview.

Nadal, who has notably been an avid golfer, added:

"I am a sports person. Not just a professional tennis player, I am an athlete. I like to practice sports, not just watch it."

Nadal is currently in his 23rd year of playing tennis as a professional. Since starting out in 2001, he has won several accolades including 22 Grand Slam titles. In the 2024 Madrid Open, the 37-year-old's next task is to better Alex de Minaur in the second round.

What is the foot injury that has troubled Rafael Nadal over the years? Check here

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