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26/04/24 | 9:52 am

Tennis: Nadal outclasses Blanch in Madrid first round

Rafael Nadal thrashed 16-year-old wild card Darwin Blanch 6-1 6-0 in the first round of the Madrid Open on Thursday to set up a rematch with 10th seed Alex de Minaur next.

The Australian defeated Nadal 7-5 6-1 in the second round of the Barcelona Open last week when the Spaniard was playing in his first tournament in over three months having plummeted to 512 in the rankings after a long spell on the sidelines.

After almost a year’s absence following hip surgery, Nadal returned to tour action in Brisbane in January, winning his first two matches before suffering another injury setback during a grueling three set quarter-final loss to Jordan Thompson with a muscle tear forcing him to miss the Australian Open as well as tournaments in Doha, Indian Wells and Monte Carlo.

The 22-times Grand Slam champion’s injuries have caused doubts about his ability to compete at the elite level again after he previously said that he expected to finish his glittering career in 2024.

(Reuters)

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