Rafael Nadal extends Madrid Open last dance by another round, easily beats opponent less than half his age in 1R battle

Rafael Nadal extends Madrid Open last dance by another round
Rafael Nadal extends Madrid Open last dance by another round

Rafael Nadal's last dance at the Madrid Open this year will see the Spaniard making at least the second round, as he began his campaign with a breezy win over 16-year-old Darwin Blanch.

In a match that saw the largest age-gap between opponents at the Masters 1000 level, Nadal reigned supreme from the get go. He forced an early break of serve to go 3-0 up before Blanch won his first game of the night. However, Nadal held firm after that, racking up the next three games to wrap up the set 6-1.

The second set started off in identical fashion, with Nadal breaking the American's serve early to take the lead. The 22-time Grand Slam champion did one better than the first set, immediately forcing a second break of serve to go 3-0 and then 4-0 up.

To cement his authority even further, the 37-year-old broke Blanch once more for good and held his serve for a bagel in the second set. Overall, the match lasted just over an hour, with Nadal winning 52 points to 25 by Blanch.

Earlier this week, Rafael Nadal had confirmed that this will be his last appearance at the Madrid Open, a tournament he has won five times.

The Mallorcan maintained that even though he might not play at 100%, he will try his best to enjoy his last moments in front of his home fans.

"I am not prepared to play at 100 percent, but it is important to play for the last time in Madrid. That's important, playing for the last time here in Madrid means a lot. Because yes, I think it will be the last time I play in Madrid," the former World No. 1 said.

Rafael Nadal to take on Alex de Minaur in Madrid Open 2R

Mutua Madrid Open - Day Three
Mutua Madrid Open - Day Three

Following his win over Darwin Blanch, Rafael Nadal will take on 10th seed Alex de Minaur in the second round of the 2024 Madrid Open. The duo faced off last week at the Barcelona Open, where the Aussie won in straight sets.

The head-to-head between the duo is 3-2 in the Spaniard's favor, with De Minaur having won their last two matches on the trot. They have faced only once on clay before -- last week's Barcelona Open meeting, which was won by De Minaur.

The winner of the clash will take on Pedro Cachin or Frances Tiafoe in the third round.

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

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