Madrid Open: Rafael Nadal begins farewell with straight-set win

Madrid Open: Rafael Nadal begins farewell with straight-set win

Rafael Nadal began his Madrid Open farewell with a comfortable straight-set win over American teenager Darwin Blanch.

Spain’s five-time champion, who has indicated he plans to retire after the 2024 season, took just 63 minutes to complete a 6-1 6-0 victory.

The 37-year-old said this week he will only play at the French Open next month if he feels “capable enough to compete”.

Nadal will play Australian Alex de Minaur, who beat him in the second round of the Barcelona Open last week, in the next round.

The 22-time major winner was making his return following a three-month absence at the Barcelona Open, having feared he may not be able to play again on the professional tour.

The French Open, where Nadal is a record 14-time champion, starts on 26 May.

“Playing here has always been a huge pleasure and the support is difficult to describe in words,” Nadal told Sky Sports.

“I just enjoyed the fact I was able to go out there one more time, and victory gives me the chance to go out there again in two days.

“It’s emotional. I am a passionate person but I’m also a stable personality, so I’m enjoying it but also focusing on what I need to be and seeing how far I can go in terms of pushing my physical performance.”

In the women’s draw, American third seed Coco Gauff recorded an emphatic 6-0 6-0 victory over Dutch player Arantxa Rus.

But four-time major winner Naomi Osaka is out following a 6-2 4-6 7-5 loss to Russian 15th seed Liudmila Samsonova.

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