Nadal's Barcelona return ended by De Minaur

April 18, 2024 5:54 am

Spain's Rafael Nadal [Source: Reuters]

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.

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.

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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.

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.

De Minaur, 25, broke into the top 10 of the world rankings for the first time in February following his run to the Rotterdam Open final and then went on to successfully defend his Mexican Open title.