"Stop with the corruption sh*t" - Serena Williams' ex-coach quashes 'nonsense' claims about Rafael Nadal's favorable 1R draw at Madrid Open

Rennae Stubbs on Rafale Nadal
Rennae Stubbs on Rafael Nadal's Madrid Open draw being rife with 'corruption'

Serena Williams' former coach Rennae Stubbs recently gave her two cents on Rafael Nadal drawing the 16-year-old wildcard Darwin Blanch as his first-round opponent at this week's Madrid Open.

Rafael Nadal was in sublime form during his opener at the Caja Magica on Thursday (April 25), drubbing the inexperienced Darwin Blanch 6-1, 6-0 to reach the second round of the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Madrid. The American's lackluster display prompted a rant from former player-turned-analyst Rennae Stubbs on big tournaments giving wildcards to players who are, for all intents and purposes, a no-name on the ATP tour.

Following the above match's finish, Stubbs suggested on X (formerly Twitter) that 1000-level events should altogether discard wildcards. She also took exception to Blanch receiving a wildcard in Madrid, claiming that the berth in the draw should be reserved for just Major winners and former World No. 1's.

"I don’t think giving a 16-year-old a WC into a 1000 is a good idea. I actually think we need to get rid of WCs in 1000s," Rennae Stubbs wrote on X. "The only 1s that should ever be given are to former Major champs or former #1s. Everyone else should have to play Qs. A WC is NOT bringing in more fans to a 1000."

A fan subsequently inferred in the replies to the 53-year-old's post that Darwin Blanch was given the wildcard as his management company, International Management Group (IMG), owned the Madrid Open.

They also made corruption allegations against the 1000-level tournament as the probability of Rafael Nadal drawing the American youngster was relatively low.

"I guess being associated with Nike/IMG comes with its own favors," the fan wrote. "Also, what are the chances that he was randomly selected to play a struggling Rafa in the first round. The corruption is outrageous."

While Rennae Stubbs did agree with the fan on IMG influencing Blanch's wildcard, she immediately shot down the fan's assertions that the men's singles draw of the Madrid Open was rigged in favor of Nadal.

"Stop with the corruption s**t on the draw," Stubbs wrote in reply to the fan. "It’s nonsense talk. The IMG point is 100% but the other comment is ridiculous."

Rafael Nadal's 1R opponent Darwin Blanch also received a wildcard at last month's Miami Open

Rafael Nadal and Darwin Blanch pose before their Madrid Open 1R match
Rafael Nadal and Darwin Blanch pose before their Madrid Open 1R match

Rafael Nadal's first-round opponent Darwin Blanch was also handed a wildcard for the 2024 Miami Open despite not being ranked inside the ATP top 1000 rankings. The American lost to eventual quarterfinalist Tomas Machac 4-6, 2-6.

For what it's worth, the Miami Open is also amongst the several pro-tour events that are owned by IMG. In that vein, it does make a little bit of sense for their client Blanch to receive a wildcard at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament.

The 16-year-old, for his part, has given a good account of himself over the last year. Although the World No. 1028 primarily competes on the ITF circuit, he does have some impressive feats to his name. In 2022, Darwin Blanch became the second-youngest active player to score an ATP ranking point.

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