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Other SportsRafael Nadal sees Barcelona Open comeback halted by Alex de Minaur

Rafael Nadal sees Barcelona Open comeback halted by Alex de Minaur

Rafael Nadal’s Barcelona Open comeback was halted in the second round on Wednesday as world number 11 Alex de Minaur sealed a straight-sets victory over the 22-time grand slam champion.

Nadal has not featured since reaching the quarter-finals of the Brisbane International in January, when the Spaniard suffered a muscle tear which caused him to miss the Australian Open.

The 37-year-old has endured a difficult few years with injuries, only playing five matches since January 2023 due to persistent hip and abdominal problems.

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He has said he will retire in 2024 if his fitness issues prevent him from competing regularly, but he returned after three months on the sidelines on Tuesday, beating Flavio Cobolli in straight sets on the clay in Catalonia.

Nadal is looking to build fitness ahead of a tilt at a record-extending 15th French Open title, with the second major of the year due to begin on May 20 at Roland Garros.

His Barcelona run was a short one, however, as he succumbed to a 7-5 6-1 defeat against De Minaur on Wednesday.

Nadal left the court at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona – potentially for the final time – to a standing ovation, and while disappointed by his early exit, he was pleased to see his endurance tested to the maximum.

“On a personal level, for what is to come, the 6-1 in the second set is what had to happen today,” Nadal said after his defeat.

“It wasn’t today that I had to give everything and die. I have to give myself the chance to do that in a few weeks, or at least try to.”

Nadal joined Andy Murray in being named on the French Open entry list on Wednesday, while former US Open champion Emma Raducanu missed out on a guaranteed spot in the women’s draw.

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.
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