Rafael Nadal crashes out of Barcelona Open and slams ‘stupid’ rival

Rafael Nadal lost to fourth-seed Alex de Minaur on Wednesday (Picture: Getty)

Rafael Nadal has crashed out of the Barcelona Open in the second round one day after slamming fellow tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas for his ‘stupid’ claim.

The 37-year-old played his first professional match since early January on Tuesday, producing a 6-2 6-3 victory over Italy’s world No.62 Flavio Cobolli.

Nadal was unable to record back-to-back wins, though, as fourth-seed Alex de Minaur, the boyfriend of British No.1 Katie Boulter, beat him 7-5 6-1.

Spanish legend Nadal, a 22-time Grand Slam champion, has suggested 2024 will be his final season in tennis before he joins Roger Federer in retirement.

He is desperately trying to build up his fitness ahead of the French Open in late May, an event Nadal has famously dominated and is keen to play one last time.

Speaking about his chances of playing Roland-Garros after his loss to De Minaur, Nadal, who has massively struggled with injuries in recent times, said: ‘I’ll try to take another step in Madrid, then Rome and if, in a tournament, it is worth going out to give everything and die for it… it’s in Paris.’

Meanwhile, Nadal was irked by Tsitsipas ahead of his second-round match against De Minaur in Barcelona after the Greek star said he wouldn’t be surprised to see the ‘King of Clay’ reach the final of the ATP 500 event.

Stefanos Tsitsipas pictured in action during a match in Monte-Carlo

Stefanos Tsitsipas was slammed by Rafael Nadal on Tuesday (Picture: Getty)

‘It’s stupid, let’s face it, he knows that’s not the case,’ Nadal said, according to Spanish outlet Punto de Break.

‘I suppose there is a lot of respect for what I have [done] in this tournament, but everyone knows that I am no longer a favourite to aspire to win a tournament.

‘There is simply a story behind it that weighs heavily on rivals. To this day I am not the favourite, maybe in [the] game [against Cobolli] yes, it is possible.

‘I know that tomorrow [against de Minaur] I am not a favourite, but it doesn’t matter either.

‘These are things for you, you have to write about these things, for me it is an experience playing against a top-level player. It will be a test for me, we will see how I respond.’


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