Home Australia De Minaur pays tribute to Nadal after the Australian beat the Spanish legend in a possible farewell to Barcelona

De Minaur pays tribute to Nadal after the Australian beat the Spanish legend in a possible farewell to Barcelona

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De Minaur pays tribute to Nadal after the Australian beat the Spanish legend in a possible farewell to Barcelona

Alex de Minaur is savoring a “once-in-a-lifetime” triumph after beating clay king Rafael Nadal in what may well have been the great man’s last appearance on his own court at the Barcelona Open.

Nadal wasn’t at his best in his tentative return to action after injury in just his second tournament in 15 months, but nothing should detract from how De Minaur bested 12-time champion on the Court Rafa Nadal of the Real Club de Tennis Barcelona. on Wednesday local time.

De Minaur was fast, ruthless and relentless in his 7-5, 6-1 victory and even if this, of course, was not the all-conquering Nadal of yesteryear, the 37-year-old is still a major force. On the red clay and Australia’s number one he played a supreme match, condemning the Spanish colossus to death by drop shot.

“When the draw came out, I probably wasn’t very interested in playing with Rafa, but I changed my attitude and saw it as a great opportunity, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” De Miñaur said.

“I am very happy to have been able to get the victory.

“I’m very, very lucky not to have played against Rafa a couple of years earlier on clay. It would have been a very, very different result. An incredible experience and we moved on. It’s been a great year.”

For Nadal, however, it may be the last match he plays on the court that bears his name in what will be the last season of his glorious career.

De Minaur showed the utmost respect by applauding and not celebrating too much before Nadal received a standing ovation as he left the arena.

But in the first point of the match, when De Minaur hit an unanswerable drop shot, it was clear that there was no room for feelings here.

He successfully repeated the shot five times in the first three games alone to put his venerable and vulnerable opponent on the run, breaking Nadal’s shot in the first game and four times thereafter.

“I think the only thing I could have over Rafa on clay is physicality at this stage of his career,” said de Miñaur.

“I decided to try to make the rallies quite physical and long, use my speed to my advantage. It’s never easy against him.”

Nadal’s former majesty saw him storm back in the first set, but there were too many unforced errors emanating from his rusty racket (42 in total) for him to threaten.

At one point in the first set, a brilliant forehand full-length winner from a Nadal howitzer had the Spaniard slapping his racquet in gratitude as he recognized how this new version of De Minaur, who had beaten him in the United Cup in a tough court last year, is now a threat on any surface.

The key game came at 5-5 when De Minaur attacked and broke at love, before serving to win the set after a run of 11 unanswered winning points.

At the start of the second set, Nadal looked exhausted and well beaten by the Australian, who will play either 16th seed Arthur Fils or Germany’s Daniel Altmaier in the round of 16.

On a good day for Sydney, Jordan Thompson also reached the round of 16, defeating Spanish clay court specialist Jaume Munar 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. His next rival is Norway’s third seed, Casper Ruud.


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