Picture Credit: X

Picture Credit: X

The 22-time Grand Slam winner, Rafael Nadal on Tuesday, April 30 bid goodbye to the Madrid Open after his fourth-round exit. The 37-year-old, who made a return at the Barcelona Open after a long hiatus, a tournament just ahead of the Mutua Madrid Open, ended his campaign in the Round of 16, losing to Jiri Lehecka 7-5, 6-4. 

With his loss, Nadal not only held back from making history at the ATP 1000 Masters, but also suffered his first clay defeat to a player outside the top 20 since 2016 in his illustrious career in Madrid. After his fourth-round defeat at the tournament, Nadal received a loud cheer as he walked out making his final appearance, Tournament Director, Felicano Lopez felicitated the legend with a special trophy. 

It is to be noted that the Spaniard has won the Madrid Open on five occasions during a span of 2008-2017. If he would have progressed further, he would have made history by reaching the quarterfinals on his 100th ATP Masters 100 event. 

It’s not over: Rafael Nadal after his farewell match in Madrid

The 37-year-old Spaniard, who walked out with pride with five titles at the ATP 1000 Masters event, spoke of it being a special as well as an emotion one. Speaking after his RO16 exit, Rafael Nadal said, “It’s been a very special week for me, positive in many ways, both personally and for my tennis. I had the chance to play again on court. A few weeks ago, two days before Barcelona, I didn’t know if I would compete in an official match again and I’ve played two weeks. It’s been unforgettable.”

“The only thing I can say is ‘thank you’. It’s been an incredible journey that started when I was little, I came to Madrid for the first time in 2003., when tournament was played indoors. The first time I came here feeling competitive was in 2005. It was one of the most exciting wins of my career, still indoors. Ever since, the support has been unconditional from everyone. I cannot thank you enough,” he further added.