Nadal’s Barcelona Return Ended By De Minaur

By: Gyang Dakwo

Rafa Nadal’s hopes of winning the Barcelona Open for a 13th time were dashed on Wednesday following a 7-5 6-1 second round defeat by Australian fourth seed Alex de Minaur.

The Spaniard was playing his first tournament since January and had made a winning return on Tuesday with his first round victory over Flavio Cobolli, but the 37-year-old was no match for the in-form De Minaur.

“Alex is a great player. In terms of tennis today, he was in better shape than me,” Nadal said.

De Minaur began brightly, breaking in the opening game, but Nadal broke back to make it 3-3 before the Australian made the decisive break and held to take the first set, and had little trouble as he strolled to win the second.

“I think about the only thing I might have on Rafa on clay is physicality at this stage of his career,” De Minaur said.

Nadal, the 22-time Grand Slam champion, managed to win just two points on De Minaur’s serve in the second set.

After being beaten on the court which is named after him, the Spaniard was given a standing ovation as he made his exit.

“At least, how things went, for me I had the chance to say goodbye here on court,” Nadal said.

Nadal returned after almost a year’s absence following hip surgery to reach the quarter-finals in Brisbane in January but he was forced into another break after suffering a muscle tear.

The Spaniard’s aim is to arrive in Roland Garros, where he has triumphed a record 14 times, in peak condition.

“I hope and believe I can be competitive in a few weeks,” Nadal said.
“That’s the way that I need to proceed today, and to give me a chance to be ready at least to compete at Roland Garros.”