Nadal starts off on the right foot in Madrid after beating a teenager

MADRID.- Rafael Nadal He had no surprises on Thursday when he defeated American teenager Darwin Blanch 6-1, 6-0 in the first round of the Madrid Open.

In just his third competitive match since suffering his most recent injury, Nadal looked in fine form. The Spanish star reappeared in Barcelona last week and succumbed in the second round to Alex De Miñaur, who will also be his rival for the second in Madrid on Saturday.

“Last week couldn't be, this week will surely be very difficult,†Nadal said. “I'm going to have the opportunity to play, we're almost on a gift, so I'm happy to get on the court again.”

“I want to continue improving as much as I can in every way and I am going to do everything in my power,†he added.

Nadal, 37, arrived in the Spanish capital and acknowledged that he was not one hundred percent physically. He made the decision to compete because the tournament is played in his country.

On Wednesday, Nadal also questioned his participation in the French Open, a tournament in which he holds the record with his 14 titles in the men's draw, warning that his current condition was not the same. ideal for playing the Grand Slam on clay.

A different challenge in Madrid:

Against a 16-year-old rival who received an invitation from the organizers, Nadal dominated from start to finish. He sealed the victory in just over an hour on the main court of the Caja Mágica.

Blanch, in just his second match on the ATP tour, committed 27 unforced errors. Nadal did not face a single break point.

Nadal is trying to get in shape for what would be his last performance at Roland Garros. He had hip surgery last summer and has indicated that 2024 could be his last year on tour. He skipped the Monte Carlo Masters and his previous tournament was Brisbane in January, when he played three matches.

“After how things have developed in recent years, every opportunity I have to be on the court, in this incredible stadium, with unconditional fans, means a lot to me,†Nadal highlighted. “I try to enjoy every moment. Tomorrow one more day of training and then another game here, that makes me feel great.”